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Tipsheet

Court Overturns A Trump-Era Bump Stock Ban

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File

A Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a firearm accessory that enables a semi-automatic gun to shoot at an increased rate of fire, was struck down by a federal appeals court. 

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In a 13 to 3 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that bump stocks are not covered under the same machine gun laws. 

The court concluded that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), rushed the legislative process by approving a rule to define bump stocks as “machineguns,” in which the court ruled that the group did not have the authority from Congress to do so. 

“A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of 'machinegun' outlined in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act,” a statement from the court read. 

The bump stock ban was enacted by former President Trump after the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, where a gunman killed 58 people at a music festival. 

The gunman used rifles containing bump stocks, which allowed him to fire more than 1,000 rounds in 11 minutes at a crowd of 22,000 people. 

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The 5th circuit claimed the ban was introduced because emotions were high after the deadly shooting. 

However, the court ruled that because with a bump stock, the trigger functions multiple times, it does not convert semi-automatic weapons into machine guns.

In 2018, Trump signed an executive order calling on the attorney general to regulate bump stocks, in which the ATF followed the president’s order. 

Before the overturn, the ban survived challenges from several courts, including the 6th circuit in Cincinnati, the federal circuit court in Washington, and the 10th Circuit in Denver, which all failed to do away with the ban. 


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