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SCOTUS Overturned The Bump Stock Ban — Here’s What That Means

One day after U.S. Supreme Court’s widely celebrated ruling to protect the abortion pill, the court made a decision that has left many shocked, confused, and scared. On June 14, 2024, SCOTUS struck down a 2018 ban on bump stocks — aka, devices that enable the rapid fire of semiautomatic rifles — thus making bump stocks legal again in the U.S.

This ban went into place in response to the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, in which a single gunman killed 60 and wounded 400 more within the span of 11 minutes — utilizing bump stocks on multiple guns to increase the rate at which he could fire bullets. It is the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. to date. Following the shooting, then-President Donald Trump ordered the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to ban the sale and ownership of bump stocks. The ATF did so — with bipartisan support — on the grounds that bump stocks converted semi-automatic weapons (which are legal in the U.S.) into machineguns (which are illegal).

However, in a 6-3 ruling, SCOTUS has now declared bump stocks don’t, in fact, turn semiautomatics into machineguns, therefore nullifying the ban on bump stocks. “A bump stock merely reduces the amount of time that elapses between separate ‘functions’ of the trigger,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in part for the court’s conservative majority. “A bump stock does not convert a semi automatic rifle into a machinegun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed her vehement dissent with the ruling, writing: “Today, the Court puts bump stocks back in civilian hands. To do so, it casts aside Congress’s definition of ‘machinegun’ and seizes upon one that is inconsistent with the ordinary meaning of the statutory text and unsupported by context or purpose. When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck. A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires ‘automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.’ Because I, like Congress, call that a machinegun, I respectfully dissent.”

If you’re outraged or devastated that SCOTUS overturned the bump stock ban, you’re certainly not alone. Many progressive politicians, gun safety advocates, and concerned civilians have weighed in on the ruling, expressing not just opposition to the decision, but also a determination to fight it.

“Guns outfitted with bump stocks fire like machine guns, they kill like machine guns, and they should be banned like machine guns — but the Supreme Court just decided to put these deadly devices back on the market,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement following the ruling. “We urge Congress to right this wrong and pass bipartisan legislation banning bump stocks, which are accessories of war that have no place in our communities.”

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus added on X, “This is terrifying for so many communities impacted by gun violence, including Nevada’s First District and the victims of the 1 October shooting. An angry lawmaker is a motivated one. This fight is far from over.”

Lexi Williams is the Senior Editor at Her Campus, where she spearheads the site's Life and News coverage — including academics, national news, digital news, and viral news. She also oversees our Gen Leaders and Dream Jobs franchises, and works with the national writer team, interns, and freelance writers. Dedicating her career to helping college students, teens, and twentysomethings live their best lives, Lexi became obsessed with all things Gen Z through her previously held editorial positions at Elite Daily and Dorm Therapy. Before that, she dabbled in the food and wine space at Wine Spectator magazine, where she learned to balance her Champagne taste with her Two-Buck-Chuck budget. Lexi's bylines have also appeared in Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Bustle, StyleCaster, and Betches, among others. She graduated magna cum laude with her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Miami in 2016. Originally from Florida, Lexi currently lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends her days scouting the best pizza spots, working on her debut novel, perpetually redecorating her apartment, and taking too many photos of her yappy little rescue dog, Benji. For pitches, contact Lexi at lexiwilliams@hercampus.com. For a healthy dose of Millennial cringe, follow her on Instagram at @lexi___williams.