Supreme Court won't touch bump stock ban

Bump stocks allow a shooter to fire continuously with a single pull of the trigger and figured prominently in the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017.
Image: A bump fire stock that attaches to an semi-automatic assault rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem
A bump fire stock that attaches to a semi-automatic assault rifle to increase the firing rate is for sale at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, on Oct. 4, 2017.George Frey / Reuters file

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By Pete Williams

The Supreme Court declined Monday to take up an appeal challenging a federal ban on rifle attachments known as bump stocks that went into effect a year ago.

Bump stocks, which allow a shooter to fire continuously with a single pull of the trigger, figured prominently in the 2017 mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and wounded 500. Of 22 semi-automatic rifles in the hotel room used by the gunman, 14 were equipped with bump stocks, prompting President Donald Trump to push for a ban.

Owners, dealers and manufacturers were required to destroy the devices or turn them into a local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office. Federal authorities estimated that half a million bump stocks had been sold in the United States.

Once attached to a rifle in place of the normal stock, or end piece, bump stocks allow rounds to be fired in quick succession, nearly as fast as an automatic weapon. The Trump administration concluded that they violated a federal law banning machine guns, defined as weapons that automatically fire more than one shot "with a single function of the trigger."

The underlying federal law did not change, but the ATF — which for years had said bump stocks were legal — reversed itself at Trump's direction. That prompted gun rights advocates to sue, but they lost at every stage in the lower courts.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, agreed with his colleagues that the court should not grant a review of the lawsuit, although he said the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., used the wrong logic in upholding the ban and suggested he would be open to hearing the issue at a future date.