Newsletter: The Supreme Court Takes on Bump Stocks

The Supreme Court has now heard arguments in another gun case. This time, it’s over the bump stock ban. And, this time, it’s not really clear what the Court might decide.

The Court held oral arguments in Cargill v. Garland on Wednesday. The justices focused intently on the technical definition of machine gun under federal law and the way bump stocks work. As I explain in a member exclusive, their questions didn’t point to a solid majority of the big question at hand, but they did give us some insights to comb through.

The jury’s verdict against the NRA and Wayne LaPierre in their New York corruption trial didn’t get as much attention as it deserved this week. So, I wanted to open up a piece that was originally a member exclusive that dives into one big short-term problem for the nation’s largest gun-rights group. The verdict is bad for the NRA’s current and former leadership, but the gap between it and the second phase of the trial won’t help those looking to reform it. At least, not during the next few months–a stretch of time key to the group’s 2024 electoral efforts.

Contributing writer Jake Fogleman and I also do a detailed deep dive on the podcast into what the jury decided, and I interview the lawyer on the gun case that might signal a change in how the Ninth Circuit approaches the issue.

Plus, permitless gun-carry advocates notched their 28th win this week in Louisiana. Meanwhile, gun-control activists convinced a federal judge the ATF was too lenient when instituting its “ghost gun” ban. And Jake explains in a piece for members how those same activists have been on a winning streak against the largest “ghost gun” kit maker.

A Moms Demand Action supporter holds a sign outside the Supreme Court
A Moms Demand Action supporter holds a sign outside the Supreme Court / Stephen Gutowski

Supreme Court Debates Legality of Bump Stock Ban
By Stephen Gutowski

The nation’s highest court set its sights on the details of a 90-year-old federal law regulating machine guns to see if the definition fits bump stocks as the ATF claims.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Cargill v. Garland. The case challenges the bump stock rule implemented by the Trump Administration, and defended by the Biden Administration, which effectively outlawed the possession of the devices. The justices spent most of their time trying to discern the meaning of the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA), which defined and heavily restricted the ownership of machine guns. Much of the argument centered on whether bump stocks allow a shooter to automatically fire their gun more than once with a single “function of the trigger,” as the NFA definition of machine gun requires.

Click here to continue reading.

The façade of the United States Supreme Court
The façade of the United States Supreme Court / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Where Will the Supreme Court Come Down on Bump Stocks? [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

Oral arguments in Cargill v. Garland concluded on Wednesday without a concrete majority emerging, but there are some clues on where each justice might stand on the ATF’s bump stock ban.

The ban, instituted at the request of former President Donald Trump in the wake of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, has experienced an uneven ride in the lower courts. It has been upheld by some and struck down by others. Cargill’s challenge won in the Fifth Circuit back in January 2023, but only after losing at the district court level.

So, it’s perhaps unsurprising the Supreme Court hearing didn’t produce the sort of tea leaves that are easy to read.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read the rest. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access!

The National Rifle Association booth at SHOT Show 2024
The National Rifle Association booth at SHOT Show 2024 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: The NRA in Limbo [Free Preview]
By Stephen Gutowski

A jury just ruled against the NRA in its corruption case, but it could be months before the final repercussions are handed down.

On Friday, six jurors returned to the Manhattan courtroom they’d called home for the previous seven weeks and entered their verdict in the civil case against the gun group and its leadership. It found the NRA did not properly safeguard its charitable assets and protect whistle-blowers. It determined longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre was liable for $5.4 million in damages and longtime Treasurer Woody Phillips was responsible for $2 million.

Those findings leave the defendants open to a number of punishments. LaPierre and Phillips could be barred from working at the NRA and forced to pay the group those millions. The organization could be forced into a series of internal reforms.

That’s exactly what New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.) wants.

Click here for a free preview of one of our member-exclusive pieces.

Podcast: NRA Loses Corruption Case
By Stephen Gutowski

On this week’s episode, we dive into the details of the verdict in the NRA’s corruption case.

As Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss, the top-line takeaways are not good for the gun-rights group’s current and former leadership. The jury determined the NRA failed to properly safeguard its charitable assets or protect numerous whistle-blowers. It also found Wayne LaPierre diverted millions of dollars worth of NRA funds toward his personal expenses, which he will likely be forced to pay back.

Plus, lawyer Anna Barvir-Boone explains why a new step in the California gun case she’s working on could signal a change of course for the Ninth Circuit. There’s reason to think gun-rights cases could face less onerous legal fights on appeal in the future in the nation’s most liberal circuit.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the episode is available on our YouTube channel.

Pistol holsters on display at a 2023 gun show
Pistol holsters on display at a 2023 gun show / Stephen Gutowski

Louisiana Passes Permitless Gun Carry
By Jake Fogleman

The Pelican State will soon become the 28th to allow legal gun owners to carry concealed without a permit.

The Louisiana House of Representatives gave final approval to Senate Bill 1 after a 75-28 vote on Wednesday. The measure will allow anyone 18 and older who is eligible to own a handgun to carry it concealed in public without a permit. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Jeff Landry (R.), who has pledged to sign it into law.

“While criminals carry guns without regard for the law, lawful gun owners are our most law-abiding citizens. Their armed presence helps deter violent crime,” Landry said at the onset of the special session. “It is time Louisiana joined 27 other states who have created a constitutional right to carry a firearm without the government’s permission. This body has repeatedly passed it. Now you have a governor who will sign it.”

Click here to read more.

An AR-15 built with an unserialized lower receiver made by Defense Distributed on display at SHOT Show 2022
An AR-15 built with an unserialized lower receiver made by Defense Distributed on display at SHOT Show 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Judge Sides with Gun-Control Group Against Biden ‘Ghost Gun’ Rule
By Jake Fogleman

A portion of the ATF’s recent rules targeting unfinished gun parts is invalid because it did not go far enough, according to a federal judge.

On Monday, US District Judge Edward Chen sided with the gun-control group Giffords and the state of California. He found that the ATF’s frames and receivers rule is “arbitrary and capricious” to the extent it exempts unfinished and unserialized AR-15 lowers, labeled “ghost guns” by opponents, sold on their own from further regulation. He specifically found the ATF didn’t consider how quickly an unfinished frame could be finished with commonly available tools.

Click here to read the rest.

Polymer 80 unfinished gun frames on sale at the 2022 NRA Great American Outdoor Show
Polymer 80 unfinished gun frames on sale at the 2022 NRA Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: The New Trend of Combatting ‘Ghost Guns’ Through Settlements [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Blue cities and gun-control advocates have had remarkable success in going after the nation’s most high-profile seller of homemade gun kits in court of late.

Most recently, Baltimore announced that Nevada-based unfinished firearm parts manufacturer Polymer80 had agreed to pay $1.2 million in a suit accusing the company of fueling gun violence in the city with its business practices. The settlement will not only permanently bar Polymer80 from marketing or selling any of its products to Maryland residents, but it will also require the company to provide Baltimore city officials with quarterly reports disclosing all of its sales to customers in the surrounding states like Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The city touted the settlement as “the most expansive and strictest” injunction secured against Polymer80 in the country, but it is certainly not the only one.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this piece and hundreds of others!

Outside The Reload

South Carolina permitless carry bill still stalled over details | Charleston City Paper | Staff Report

N.J. attorney general OKs gun microstamping | New Jersey Monitor | By Dana DiFilippo

Federal judge rips California for denying gun purchases to ex-felons | Courthouse News Service | By Michael Gennaro

Gun permit costs would double in N.J. under Governor’s budget plan | | By S.P. Sullivan

Colorado launches first-ever firearm data dashboard | CPR | By John Daley

Judge Benitez rules that California’s ban on billy clubs is unconstitutional | Associated Press

Urinalysis Requirement for Gun Carry Permit Likely Unconstitutional | Volokh Conspiracy | By Eugene Volokh

Purdue Professor Says Research Shows Benefits of Armed Citizens | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

‘Ghost gun’ companies fail to end New York attorney general’s lawsuit | Reuters | By Brendan Pierson

New Zealand Lawmakers Have Second Thoughts About Semi-Auto Ban | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear expert analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get our exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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