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Supreme Court Bump Stock Ruling May Increase Lethal Weaponry

After the 2017 Las Vegas massacre where a gunman killed 60 people, officials targeted bump stocks -- gun accessories that increase a rifle's firing rate to near that of a machine gun. The Trump administration banned bump stocks in response. Last week's Supreme Court ruling that struck down that ban could potentially open the door to other gun accessories. The ruling could undercut President Biden’s efforts to restrict other gun accessories that give semiautomatic rifles rapid-fire capabilities, lawyers and gun-policy experts on both sides of the gun debate tell the New York Times. The devices are replacement triggers known as “forced-reset triggers” or “wide-open triggers” that allow shooters to fire more than 900 rounds in a minute with one continuous squeeze, federal officials say. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that the devices effectively turned semiautomatic weapons into prohibited machine guns. Now, experts said that those restrictions could be upended by the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling overturning the ban on bump stocks.

Immediately after the court issued its ruling on Friday, lawyers for gun rights groups sued to overturn the trigger restrictions. The federal government has argued that accessories like bump stocks and forced-reset triggers essentially convert semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic ones. However, Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court’s conservative majority, said that “a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machine gun’ because it cannot fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger.’” Gun rights groups and sellers of trigger accessories agreed, arguing that the mechanism of a forced-reset trigger differentiates it from a true machine gun, both practically and in the eyes of the law. Gun-control groups said that the Supreme Court’s opinion was unlikely to give any legal cover to one illegal subset of these devices known as switches. Despite the restrictions, similar trigger devices are still available online for $300 as are tutorials for installations. Gun rights supporters call the devices constitutionally protected gun modifications.


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