US Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns Bump Stock Ban By Reuters

US Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns Bump Stock Ban By Reuters

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©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A bump fire stick attached to a semi-automatic rifle to increase firing rate is seen at the Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey 2/2

By Jonathan Stamp

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday overturned a rule the Trump administration issued following a 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that banned “bump stocks,” devices that people use to quickly fire multiple shots from semi-automatic weapons can fire.

In a 13-3 decision, the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that despite “tremendous” public pressure to impose a ban, it is up to Congress rather than the President to take action.

While the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) and Explosives had interpreted a law banning machine guns to extend to stockpiles, U.S. federal judge Jennifer Walker Elrod said the law did not clearly ban them.

Elrod, writing for the majority, said the law also does not provide “a fair warning that possession of a non-mechanical baton is a crime”.

One of the dissenting judges, Stephen Higginson, wrote that the majority used arguments “to legalize an instrument of mass murder.”

Three other federal appeals courts have dismissed challenges to the ban. While the Supreme Court in October declined to hear appeals against two of the earlier decisions, Friday’s ruling raises the prospect that the court could ultimately decide the matter.

“The resulting division of circles should immediately bring this decision to the attention of the US Supreme Court and provide an appropriate vehicle to settle this matter once and for all,” said Mark Chenoweth, president of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a conservative Group that led the process case.

ATF, the arm of the Justice Department that passed the rule, declined to comment.

A butt stock slides a weapon’s stock resting against the shoulder back and forth, allowing users to take advantage of the weapon’s recoil to fire quickly.

Though gun restrictions are often championed by Democrats, former President Donald Trump’s Republican administration imposed an ATF rule banning bump stocks after a gunman used them in the October 2017 killing of 58 people at a Las Vegas country music concert would have.

The administration of Democratic President Joe Biden also supports the ban, which went into effect in 2019.

In December 2021, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit upheld the ban, ruling against Texas gun owner Michael Cargill, who had opposed it.

Friday’s decision reversed that ruling. The majority of the justices were appointed by Republican presidents, while the dissenting justices were appointed by Democratic presidents.

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