Jan 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump-era bump stocks ban struck down by federal court

A small group prays at a makeshift memorial following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a ban on bump stocks — a device that can be attached to a semiautomatic firearm enabling it to rapidly fire bullets.

Driving the news: The 13-3 decision at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans won't immediately take effect as the case goes back to a lower court and may eventually move to the Supreme Court, per AP.

Background: The Trump-era ban was instated following a 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, where a gunman killed dozens of people and injured hundreds of others from his hotel room using weapons equipped with bump stocks.

  • Gun rights advocates have challenged the ruling multiple times.

State of play: Those against the ban argued that bump stocks do not fall under the definition of illegal machine guns in federal law.

  • But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says they do, a position the Biden administration agrees on, per AP.

What they're saying: "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’ set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act," Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in the opinion.

  • The definition of "machine gun" does not apply to bump stocks, the opinion goes on to say. "And if there were any doubt as to this conclusion, we conclude that the statutory definition is ambiguous, at the very least."
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