Senate Democrats to try to ban bump stocks after Supreme Court ruling

Washington — Senate Democrats on Tuesday will try to pass legislation that would restore a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, an accessory that enables semi-automatic weapons to shoot at a very rapid pace, after last week’s Supreme Court decision striking down the ban. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday he’d bring up the legislation for a vote under unanimous consent, a procedure in which a measure passes so long as no lawmaker objects.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, called the bump stock ban “common sense” and urged Republicans to support it. 

“Republicans were supportive of banning bump stocks when the Trump administration took this step, so they should support it tomorrow,” Schumer said Monday on the Senate floor. 

The Supreme Court’s conservative justices found that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives overstepped its authority in prohibiting the devices, concluding that a semi-automatic rifle outfitted with a bump stock is not the same as a machine gun because the trigger still must be released and reengaged to fire each shot. Machine guns, which are banned under federal law, can fire continuously by a single pull of the trigger. 

The ban, which went into effect in 2019, came after a gunman, who used semi-automatic rifles equipped with the accessories, killed 60 people at a Las Vegas music festival in one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. 

“A bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion. 

In a concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said the Las Vegas massacre strengthened the case for changing the law to ban bump stocks. 

“There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machine guns,” he wrote, saying that “Congress can amend the law.” 

President Biden called on Congress to pass a ban in wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, saying he would sign it into law. 

“Americans should not have to live in fear of this mass devastation,” Mr. Biden said in a statement Friday. 

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