SCOTUS To Hear Challenge To Federal 'Bump-Stock' Ban

P. Gardner Goldsmith | November 5, 2023
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Reports on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) accepting a challenge to the Trump-imposed so-called “Bump-Stock Ban” might inspire one to wonder which is more bald-facedly erroneous: the reporting on the issue, or the idea that the federal government can “ban” something such as a “bump-stock.”

The AFP coverage is a case in point, offering this, in the first paragraph:

“The US Supreme Court agreed on Friday to consider the legality of a federal ban on ‘bump stocks,’ an accessory that converts a semi-automatic weapon into a rapid-fire machine gun.”

So, right off the proverbial bat, AFP hits a foul ball.

First, the “bump stock” that they claim can “convert” a semi-auto into a “rapid-fire machine gun” does nothing of the sort. As would happen if a shooter used a belt to retain stock pressure against the body to employ recoil and push the trigger back against the trigger-finger, the bump-stock simply increases the rate of fire. It doesn’t turn a semi-auto into an auto or a “machine gun.”

But the terms sound frightening, so perhaps that’s why AFP wrote such a wildly off-path claim.

The other facet of that opening which ought to attract attention is the fact that the SCOTUS is going to “consider the legality” of the ban.

That part of the report, actually, is correct, though in it being correct, it tells us a great deal about the SCOTUS and what they will and will not do to defend the Second Amendment.

Simply put, the Supreme Court Justices are not going to rule on the constitutionality of such a “ban” or on the constitutionality of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF, or ATF). And that’s a troubling sign of the fact that even those whom some Americans believe to be their legal defenders against unconstitutional federal, state, or local action are predisposed to leaving unconstitutional bureaus and concepts in place.

AFP continues its report, noting some facts about the Trump-issued “ban” that was enforced by the ATF, and, while doing, showing an incapacity to stop that lovely AFP political spin:

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) prohibited the production, sale and possession of bump stocks in December 2018 by classifying them as machine guns, which have been banned since 1986.”

The ATF classifying them as “machine guns” does not make them such. Without such a classification, the feds can claim no enumerated power in the Constitution to ban any object from sale, and with such an absurd classification, the ATF then would be adding the extra protection of the Second Amendment, which explicitly prohibits ANY INFRINGEMENT on the right to keep and bear arms.

They add:

“A Texas gun shop owner filed suit in response claiming the ATF exceeded its authority, and lower courts have issued conflicting rulings.”

And here, we need to pause once more, because normalcy bias might allow many Americans to read through a phrase such as “exceeded its authority” and accept it.

Related: Court Strikes Down Trump’s Executive Order Banning Bump Stocks | MRCTV

But the ATF has no constitutional or moral authority over any of us. In fact, its existence is a towering contravention of the Second Amendment, as are all “gun laws” on any level of government. There is no way to argue against this, and even if the Constitution were amended to remove the Second Amendment, no agent of government has any morally superior claim to threaten peacefully-minded people merely because those people own something, be it a gun, a bullet, or a “bump-stock.” The ownership of something is not an aggressive act.

Government engaging in threats against those who own a “prohibited” thing – that is aggressive, and morally reprehensible.

“The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case following an appeal by the Justice Department of a conservative-dominated lower court ruling that invalidated the ban.

Nick Suplina, a senior vice president at Everytown for Gun Safety, urged the Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority, to ‘overturn the lower court's deadly decision and keep bump stocks out of the marketplace.’"

Ahh, yes. The politically loaded, “conservative-dominated lower court.”

That “conservative-dominated” court was the Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, and, despite the description from AFP, it went nowhere near where it should have gone in its ruling in the pertinent case, called "Cargill v Garland."

The majority on the Fifth Circuit did not question the actual idea of a “bump-stock” ban and they did not question the underlying unconstitutional existence of the ATF. The majority merely ruled that the “process” for the ban was wrong, implying that if the US Congress has passed a bill to ban bump stocks, wellllll, then such a ban would have been just peachy.

And so the SCOTUS will rule on that level, one can be sure, leaving our right to keep and bear arms, our right to privacy, and our right to freedom of contract at the mercy of any Congressional team-up that garners enough votes to further attack those rights.

The Second Amendment is not on the radar screen, and until more Americans start focusing on the defense of our rights, few people in DC will feel compelled to bother paying attention.

Related: Fight Against 'Bump Stock Ban' Reaches Fifth Circuit Court | MRCTV