The Supreme Court left in place the Trump administration’s new ban on bump-stock firearms devices, moving Thursday to reject attempts to halt the policy by gun-rights groups who said their Second Amendment rights were being prematurely stripped.
The justices denied a petition from Gun Owners of America and other advocates, who had asked for a temporary halt to the ban, which took effect Tuesday.
The court did not offer comment on the denial.
Several cases are still being fought in lower courts, but the Supreme Court’s move means the ban will remain in place for almost the entire country.
An official with Gun Owners of America said the group is disappointed in the decision but that it will continue to fight the case in the lower courts.
“We remain convinced that the courts will consign this unlawful, unconstitutional ban to the trash bin of history, where it belongs,” said Michael Hammond, the group’s legislative counsel.
Bump stocks are add-on devices designed to make semiautomatic rifles match the rate of fire of automatic weapons.
While ownership of automatic weapons can be heavily curtailed or banned under current law, the Bush and Obama administrations had taken the position that bump stocks weren’t weapons themselves, so it would take a new law from Congress.
The Trump administration reversed that stance, arguing bump stocks are actually machine guns and therefore can be regulated under existing law.
The gun-rights groups are challenging that reversal.
Several U.S. district courts have sided with the Trump administration, which said it took a fresh look at the devices after the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting. The man responsible for that massacre used bump stocks to rain fire down on concertgoers, killing 58 people.
Those rulings prompted gun rights groups to appeal to U.S. circuit courts — and ultimately the Supreme Court — to try to at least delay the ban until the lower courts issued a final ruling in their cases.
The ban has left some people and companies scrambling to comply.
One Texas company, RW Arms, said this week it would transfer 60,000 bump stocks to a shredder in Fort Worth to be shredded and recycled under the supervision of agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
The ATF will not say how many devices have been turned over to their offices.
But Mr. Hammond said he suspected that many gun-rights advocates won’t bother to try.
“While GOA cannot advocate that its members violate the law, we predict, given our experience with nine states with similar bans, that a large majority of the 500,000 bump stock owners will refuse to turn in their property in what they view as an illegal, unconstitutional gun grab,” he said.
A federal appeals court in Washington granted a reprieve to the people involved in one case brought by the Firearms Policy Foundation.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals also temporarily blocked the government from enforcing the ban against an individual in Utah who had sued.
But those rulings didn’t stop the broader ban from taking effect as scheduled for most of the population.