Nevada officials criticize Supreme Court ruling overturning bump stocks ban

Nevada officials criticize Supreme Court ruling overturning bump stocks ban

FILE - A bump stock is attached to a semi-automatic rifle at The Gun Vault in South Jordan, Utah, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

By Casey Harrison

June 14, 2024

From the state to federal level, Nevada officials criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a ban on a dangerous gun accessory. 

The US Supreme Court on Friday overturned a Trump administration-era ban on a firearms accessory known as a bump stock — which was used by the Nevada gunman who carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. 

The 6-3 ruling was issued by the court’s conservative majority, which found the Trump administration overstepped its authority when it issued the 2017 regulation that effectively banned bump stocks in the aftermath of the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. 

Bump stocks are components that attach to the end of a firearm and are able to harness a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to fire at a rate comparable to machine guns. Authorities say the gunman, Stephen Paddock, used several assault-style weapons equipped with bump stocks from a hotel room overlooking the festival to fire more than 1,000 rounds into the crowd over a span of roughly 11 minutes. 

The gunfire ultimately killed 60 people and left hundreds injured. It also was one of the many mass shootings that gained national attention and re-ignited the national debate on gun law reform — including among many Nevada Democrats in Congress who slammed the decision. 

Nevadans criticize SCOTUS ruling overturning bump stocks ban

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that a rifle fitted with a rapid-fire accessory known as a bump stock is not an illegal machine gun. (AP Graphic)

The majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas stated the Department of Justice overreached its authority to rule that bump stocks transformed semi-automatic rifles into illegal machine guns because each trigger pull in rapid succession still only fires a single shot. 

But Justices Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor noted a ban on bump stocks may be possible through Congressional action, according to the Associated Press. 

Following the ruling, Nevada Democratic officials from the state and federal level criticized the ruling. US Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, along with US Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee, and Steven Horsford joined President Joe Biden in calling on Congress to swiftly pass legislation that would ban bump stocks. 

“I’m appalled at the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the years-long ban on bump stock devices,” Titus, whose district includes the site of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting, said in a statement. “In siding with a far-fetched challenge to the [federal] rule, conservatives on the Court are allowing these destructive devices to return to our streets. … Let me be clear that the level of carnage we saw was enabled by bump stocks.” 

Titus in her statement also called on lawmakers to pass a bill she introduced called the Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act, which would effectively impose the same ban the high court overturned. 

In a statement provided by a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, the former Clark County Sheriff who led the law enforcement response to the 1 Oct. shooting called the decision a disappointment.

“While I have always been a supporter of the Second Amendment, I have been a vocal opponent of bump stocks since my time in law enforcement, and I’m disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision today,” Lombardo said.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat, said with the ruling, the Supreme Court “abdicated its responsibility to the American public.”

Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui was an attendee of the festival and has shared her personal experience of the shooting. She said in a statement the decision would “undoubtedly make communities less safe.” 

“Legislative Democrats remain committed to passing commonsense gun violence prevention measures,” Jauregui said. “Now more than ever, it is important to elect Democrats up and down the ballot to ensure we keep our communities safe from the epidemic of gun violence and prevent soulless, morally corrupt, and bankrupt MAGA Republicans beholden to the gun lobby from being in charge of the public safety of our communities.” 

RELATED: Sam Brown opposes many gun safety reforms. How will that shape the 2024 US Senate race? 

But the political appetite for a legislative remedy appears unpromising. Despite his administration imposing the ban, former President Donald Trump said he respected the court’s ruling and touted his endorsement from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobby. 

Rep. Mark Amodei, Nevada’s only Republican representation in Congress, hadn’t released a public statement by the time this story was published. A spokesperson for GOP US Senate Candidate Sam Brown did not respond to a request for comment from The Nevadan. 

Public opinion polls conducted after the Oct. 1 shooting showed broad support for bump stock bans. A NPR/Ipsos survey of roughly 1,000 US adults taken the same month of the shooting revealed that 82% of respondents supported a total ban on bump stocks, while just 45% supported stricter gun laws overall. 

“Congress must come together [and] pass bipartisan legislation to permanently ban bump stocks,” Rosen, who’s facing re-election, posted on social media.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:12 p.m. to include comment from Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo. 

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.


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