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SCOTUS: Congress Makes Laws; White House Implements Them

united states supreme court

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on February 28, 2024. The court heard arguments on the legality of "bump stocks," simple devices that can allow automatic fire from otherwise semi-automatic guns. The court ruled on Fri. June 14, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)  

Michael Dorstewitz By Monday, 17 June 2024 10:26 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Far-left and left-leaning media went ballistic over a decision the U.S. Supreme Court released on a firearm-related issue Friday.

For example, Mother Jones gasped that "The Supreme Court Basically Legalizes Machine Guns."

Similarly, a Vox headline screamed, "The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns."

But the court did not do any such thing.

The term "machine gun" is defined in 26 US Code §5845(b) as "any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger."

Simply stated, a machine gun only requires a single pull of the trigger to fire multiple rounds. A semi-automatic weapon will fire one round with each trigger pull.

At issue in Friday’s Supreme Court decision was the legality of a bump stock, which, when attached to a semi-automatic rifle will assist the user to pull and release the trigger at a faster rate.

The media got it wrong on another claim as well. The Supreme Court didn’t "legalize" anything — machine guns, bump stocks, or squirt guns for that matter.

The problem is, Congress didn’t make bump stocks illegal — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) did — or at least it tried.

After the horrific 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas outdoor country music festival, which resulted in 60 deaths and more that 400 injured, investigators found that the gunman fired from a 32nd floor hotel room using a semi-automatic rifle with a bump stock.

In response, the Trump administration attempted to ban bump stocks through a new ATF rule. But the ATF, which comes under the umbrella of the executive branch of government like all federal agencies — exceeded its authority with the new rule.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in the 6-3 decision, explained that contrary to the statutory definition of a “machine gun,” semi-automatic rifles that are equipped with bump stocks do not file more than one round "by a single function of the trigger."

Justice Samuel Alito concurred, saying that "the statutory text is clear, and we must follow it."

Slate, another leftist publication, made it all personal, and claimed that "Clarence Thomas' Opinion Legalizing Bump Stocks Is Indefensible."

But again, the court legalized nothing; Congress failed to make the device illegal.

Legal scholar Laurence Tribe even cited the statutory definition of "machine gun" and still got it wrong — and he’s a retired Harvard Law School professor.

Syndicated talk radio host Dana Loesch pointed out his misinterpretation of the statutory definition of “machine gun.”

"Completely inaccurate and ignorant," said Loesch, a former National Rifle Association spokeswoman. "Bump stocks do *not* make a semi-auto into auto. The trigger must be depressed each time. I’ve fired both many times. You clearly have not."

Tribe began by claiming that "The 1934 Firearms Act bans civilian ownership of a "machine gun,'" and even got called on that.

"His first sentence is wrong, so it's all downhill from there," said Amy Swearer, Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow and Second Amendment scholar.

"The NFA [National Firearms Act] doesn't — either then or now — ban civilian ownership of anything,” she explained. "It was a taxing and registration scheme. Until 1986's [Firearm Owners’ Protection Act], you could own any NFA weapon for an extra $200 and a tax stamp."

And the underlying principle remains:

  • Congress (the legislative branch) makes the laws.
  • The president and the agencies (the executive branch) executes the laws.
  • The court system (the judicial branch) makes sure the other two branches remain in their own lane and within their constitutional limits.

In this case it’s very possible that many of the six Supreme Court justices that voted to throw out the ATF rule would have rather seen it remain intact — but "desire" isn’t the standard the court has to follow — the Constitution is.

The more that government strays from the Constitution, the more lawless and abusive it becomes.

If government veers too far from the national framework designed by the founders, we should probably at least be honest about it and add "yellow" to the venerable red, white and blue — add a banana to the Stars and Stripes and make it official.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The term "machine gun" is defined in 26 US Code §5845(b) as "any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger."
atf, machine, gun
Monday, 17 June 2024 10:26 AM
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