Biden Admin Asks Supreme Court to Restore Bump Stock Ban

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The Biden administration on Friday petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that halted a federal ban on “bump stocks,” with the Justice Department requesting the high court reimpose a ban on the devices until it hears the case.

Bump stocks, which are accessories that let semi-automatic firearms boost firing speed, were banned in 2019 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) amended regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), classifying bump stocks as equivalent to machine guns and making them illegal.

The ban prompted a lawsuit by Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, who was handed a victory when the Fifth Circuit ruled recently to invalidate the ATF prohibition on bump stocks.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of the Fifth Circuit’s decision that reversed the ban.

“Their appeal—what they call a writ of certiorari—to the Supreme Court, asking the Supreme Court to hear this case, also asks that the lower court in Austin actually do a stay, meaning that keep bump stocks banned until this case is heard in front of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Cargill said in a statement posted on social media in response to the DOJ’s latest action.

The petition for a writ of certiorari—a formal request made to a higher court to review and potentially overturn a lower court decision—was filed with the Supreme Court by Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar on behalf of the DOJ.

“The government maintains only that bump stocks are machineguns under the best interpretation of the statute,” the petition reads (pdf). “The Fifth Circuit erred in holding otherwise, and this Court should grant review and reverse” the lower court’s decision.

That decision “threatens significant harm to public safety,” the DOJ said in the appeal. “Bump stocks allow a shooter to fire hundreds of bullets a minute by a single pull of the trigger. Like other machine guns, rifles modified with bump stocks are exceedingly dangerous.”

By Tom Ozimek

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