Skip to main content
Front view of the illuminated United States Supreme Court building at dusk, showcasing its iconic neoclassical architecture with tall columns and a grand staircase leading to the entrance.

Panorama of the west facade of the United States Supreme Court Building at dusk in Washington, D.C., USA. | Joe Ravi

Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Ban on Bump Stocks

June 18, 2024

Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Ban on Bump Stocks


Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Pinterest
Share On LinkedIn

The Supreme Court handed down a ruling with major implications for firearm regulations. In a 6-3 decision, the conservative majority found that the government exceeded its authority when it banned bump stocks. The gun accessory allows users to re-engage the trigger continuously, dramatically increasing the rate of fire. Amna Nawaz discussed more with News Hour Supreme Court analyst Marcia Coyle.

View the transcript of the story.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  1. What are bump stocks, and what do they do?
  2. When was the bump stock ban originally put in place, and under what presidential administration?
  3. Where was there a mass shooting using a bump stock that led to the ban?
  4. Who filed a lawsuit against the bump stock ban?
  5. Why was this decision not based on the Second Amendment?

Focus Questions

This ruling was not based on a violation of the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms). Instead, the conservatives on the court argued that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) did not have the power to ban bump stocks because the law the ATF was using referred to banning devices that made guns into "machine guns" or guns that could fire multiple rounds quickly based on a single pull of the trigger.

The Supreme Court opinion was based on "textualism" or making legal rulings based on an interpretation or meaning of the text. The dissenting justices argued that bump stocks effectively turned weapons into machine guns whether or not it fit the strict definition the other justices were applying.

Do you believe the Supreme Court should make decisions based more on the strictest interpretations of legislative language or the likely intent of legislatures in passing the laws in the first place? Why do you think so?

Media literacy: After hearing guest Marcia Coyle describe other cases in front of the Supreme Court, which do you think are most important? Which would you want to know more about?

Extension Activity

Read the opinion of the Supreme Court and the dissent of the three justices who disagreed with the opinion. The summary of the majority opinion starts on page 1. The dissent begins on page 25. Which argument do you find more persuasive, and why?

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

The Supreme Court: Balancing the Branches Lesson Plans

Share My Lesson has free, tailored preK-12 resources to ensure your students leave your classroom equipped with a deeper knowledge of civics and government to think critically about today's toughest issues.

PBS NewsHour Classroom
PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories. The site combines the best of NewsHour's reliable, trustworthy news program with lesson plans developed specifically for... See More

Post a comment

Log in or sign up to post a comment.