Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Trump-era bump stock ban

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The Supreme Court has rejected another challenge to former President Donald Trump’s ban on so-called bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire rapidly like a machine gun.

The ruling came on Nov. 14, after the court recognized a constitutional right to bear firearms in public for self-defense in a June decision striking down a New York law that required an applicant to demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public.

Significantly, the court also found that gun restrictions must be deeply rooted in American history if they’re to survive constitutional scrutiny.

The ruling has prompted a raft of legal challenges to gun control measures, several of which have been successful.

The ruling also came after President Joe Biden signed a gun control law in June that promotes so-called red flag laws, which encourage reporting gun owners who may be a danger to themselves or others.*

Although Trump avoided new gun control measures during his presidency, he promised to ban bump stocks after they were used in a massacre of concertgoers in Las Vegas five years ago.

A group of individuals and gun dealers upset about the Trump ban brought a class-action lawsuit seeking a ruling that the prohibition was an illegal seizure that violated the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by confiscating private property without providing just compensation.

The case is McCutchen v. United States (court file 22-25).

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which considers monetary claims against the federal government, held that the ban was within the government’s authority to outlaw public health and safety hazards.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the ruling, determining that the property right in bump stocks was limited by the preexisting federal ban on machine guns.

While individuals may seek a federal permit for a machine gun, the process is arduous and expensive.

The ban came after gunman Stephen Paddock attached bump stocks to semiautomatic rifles that he used to shoot Route 91 Harvest Music Festival attendees from his hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, 2017.

Paddock killed 58 people, wounded hundreds of others, then eluded capture by killing himself. Although theories abound, there has been no official determination of his motives for perpetrating the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in the nation’s history.

The Trump administration banned the sale and possession of bump stocks in late 2018, with the Department of Justice amending the regulations of its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), finding that bump stocks fall within the definition of “machine gun” under federal law because they “allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.”

Owners of bump stocks were ordered to destroy them or surrender them to the ATF.

The Supreme Court refused to block the government at that time from enforcing the prohibition and has turned down other challenges to the ban since then. Maryland issued its own bump stock ban, but in May 2021, the Supreme Court refused to take up a challenge to it, as The Epoch Times reported.

The litigants in the McCutchen case argued in their petition that the Federal Circuit’s holding “raises fundamental questions about the nature of personal property in a nation in which nearly every object is subject to some general grant of legislative authority to an agency.”

“By redefining the nature of title to personal property in a country dominated by grants of general regulatory authority to executive branch agencies, the Federal Circuit has removed a bedrock restraint on government power and eliminated a means of redress for citizens harmed by exercises of such power,” the petition reads.

“If the Federal Circuit is right, then federal agencies can, with a stroke of a pen, outlaw not just the future sale but the mere private possession of cars that burn too much gas, or light bulbs deemed too inefficient, and so on—without paying a dime of compensation to their owners.”

This article by Matthew Vadum appeared Nov. 14, 2022, in The Epoch Times.

*Note: I did not write that red flag laws “encourage reporting gun owners who may be a danger to themselves or others.” In fact, I wrote that red flag laws “encourage snitching on gun owners.” I regret this edit that I was not consulted about. -MV