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Gun Rights Activists Again Turn Sotomayor’s Bump Stock Dissent Against Local Gun Control Laws

AR-15. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
June 26, 2024

Gun rights activists have once again turned arguments by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for upholding a ban on bump stocks into a defense against other gun control measures.

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), arguing before the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals, is seeking to upend local legislation in Cook County, Illinois, treating various types of semiautomatic rifles as illegal “assault weapons.” Arguing on behalf of plaintiffs Cutberto Viramontes and Christopher Khaya, FPC insisted multiple Supreme Court opinions support continued access to semiautomatic rifles.

FPC also pointed to comments Sotomayor made earlier this month in Garland v. Cargill, against overturning a rule by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) banning bump stocks. In her dissenting opinion, Sotomayor insisted that the Oct. 1, 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, in which 60 people were killed and hundreds more were injured, was carried out by a shooter who had affixed bump stocks “to commonly available, semiautomatic rifles.”

FPC argued Sotomayor’s use of the words “commonly available” to describe semiautomatic rifles, matched up to the Supreme Court’s prior position in D.C. v. Heller that firearms “in common use” are protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

While Sotomayor had argued against upending the ATF’s gun control measure, FPC’s filing marks at least the second case where gun rights activists have used her words to make their case against bans on semiautomatic weapons. Gun rights litigants in New Jersey made similar arguments last week before a U.S. district court judge, seeking to overturn that state’s restrictions on various types and models of semi-automatic firearms.

FPC’s latest legal filing challenging Cook County’s ban on certain firearms types also cited a portion of a 2022 ATF rule redefining firearms frames and receivers. While FPC is also challenging the legality of that ATF frame and receiver rule, the gun rights advocacy group still pointed to a section in the rule in which the ATF described AR-15-type semi-automatic rifles as “one of the most popular firearms in the United States,” again insisting the ATF’s own words confer the Heller “common use” protection to those rifles.

“Cook County has offered nothing to distinguish the AR-15 from other types of semiautomatic rifles it bans,” FPC’s challenge to the Cook County laws continued. “Under Heller and Bruen, therefore, Cook County’s ban is unconstitutional. This Court’s inquiry should end there.”

It remains to be seen how the federal courts will rule in these cases citing Sotomayor’s dissent in Cargill.

This article was originally published by FreeBase News and is reprinted with permission.