Senate Republican Blocks Bill to Ban Bump Stocks After Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court last week struck down a Trump-era ban on the gun accessary.
Senate Republican Blocks Bill to Ban Bump Stocks After Supreme Court Ruling
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (L) and Jan Jekielek, host of The Epoch Times's "American Thought Leaders," in the state's capitol in Lincoln on June 24, 2021. (Petr Svab/The Epoch Times)
Stacy Robinson

WASHINGTON—Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) on June 18 blocked a Democrat-backed bill to ban bump stocks, days after the Supreme Court reversed a Trump-era ban on the gun accessory.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) requested unanimous consent for the Banning Unlawful Machinegun Parts Act, meaning only one senator was needed to reject the measure.

“There’s no legitimate use for a bump stock ... what they are tailor-made for is a mass shooting,” Mr. Heinrich said. “Congress needs to act. We need to pass my bill banning bump stocks and do it now.”

Mr. Ricketts, when he objected, said that the legislation was broader than it first appeared, arguing that it targeted any gun accessory that increased the rate of fire.

“This bill would ban literally any item that makes a firearm easier, and in some cases safer, to shoot,” Mr. Ricketts said.

“This will not be the last time you hear about these devices on the floor of the Senate,” Mr. Heinrich said in his response to the objection.

The Supreme Court on June 14 determined in a 6–3 decision that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) exceeded its authority when it interpreted a federal firearms statute to outlaw the use of bump stocks. Bump stocks attached to the butt end of a semiautomatic rifle use the recoil of a shot to repeatedly bump the trigger against the shooter’s finger, allowing a fire rate of dozens of rounds per minute.
The ruling prompted Mr. Schumer and other Democrats to call for legislation to outlaw bump stocks.

“We’d be a lot better off if psychopaths couldn’t get their hands on machine guns,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told reporters at the Capitol on June 17.

“Is it good politics to make it easier for potential mass killers to get their hands on machine guns? ... All the signs suggest this is still a top-of-mind issue for voters.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said that any legislation to ban bump stocks might violate the Second Amendment.

“It treads close to the line,” Mr. Cotton told CNN’s “State of the Union” on June 16.

“You’d want to look at the legislative language, but more than anything, what we need to do to stop crime in this country is to get tough on crime.”

The ban on bump stocks was issued in the aftermath of a 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, which resulted in 60 fatalities and hundreds of injuries. The ATF, with the support of President Donald Trump, banned the gun accessory on the grounds that it purportedly transformed normal rifles into machine guns. Bump stock owners were ordered to turn them over to the ATF or destroy them.

Texas gun store owner Michael Cargill filed suit against the ATF after turning over two bump stocks under protest.

The Supreme Court, in its majority opinion, ruled that a “semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machine gun’ because it doesn’t fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger.’”

With the June 14 ruling, the high court has placed the matter before Congress to decide.

“There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machineguns,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his concurring opinion.

“Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”