The Biden Justice Department filed a petition to the Supreme Court to appeal a ruling in a bump stock case with just minutes to spare last week.
The DOJ is requesting a stay against the court’s ruling to allow the use of bump stocks in the important Second Amendment rights case. Bump stocks are attachments that allow a shooter to fire a semiautomatic rifle continuously, similar to a fully automatic weapon.
“Like other machineguns, rifles modified with bump stocks are exceedingly dangerous; Congress prohibited the possession of such weapons for good reason.” US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in the new filing, according to CNN. “The decision below contradicts the best interpretation of the statute, creates an acknowledged circuit conflict, and threatens significant harm to public safety.”
The prior court ruling concluded that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was not authorized to define bump stocks as machine guns. The move by the agency sought to ban the item. Three previous appeals courts agreed with the bump stock regulation, while a January appellate court did not.
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“A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of ‘machinegun’ set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act,” Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in her opinion ruling in favor of excluding bump stocks from the definition of machine guns.
The announcement to define bump stocks as falling within the definition of a machine gun occurred in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker made the statement shortly after a Las Vegas gunman killed over 50 people in 2017 in one of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting events.
“President Donald Trump is a law and order president, who has signed into law millions of dollars in funding for law enforcement officers in our schools, and under his strong leadership, the Department of Justice has prosecuted more gun criminals than ever before as we target violent criminals,” Whitaker said in the statement in December 2018. “We are faithfully following President Trump’s leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semiautomatics into machine guns, are illegal, and we will continue to take illegal guns off of our streets.”
The devices were previously considered firearms accessories and were not treated as a firearm.