June 21, 2024

Connecticut Leaders Condemn Supreme Court’s Decision Overturning Federal Bump Stock Ban

Connecticut officials condemned a Friday decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned a federal bump stock ban, which was enacted in 2017 after a lethal mass shooting in Las Vegas.

In a 6 to 3 decision, the court ruled along ideological lines against the prohibition on bump stocks — firearm accessories that significantly speed up the rate at which semi-automatic rifles can be fired.

Connecticut adopted its own prohibition on bump stocks in 2018 and Friday’s court ruling will not impact that statute. However, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney and Majority Leader Bob Duff said the decision could have lethal consequences across the nation.

“Seven years ago in Las Vegas, the most devastating mass shooting in American history was facilitated by the use of bump stocks,” Looney and Duff said in a joint statement. “Today, the Supreme Court has taken action to make sure these destructive tools can continue to be used to threaten and contribute to violence. When Republicans get their way in front of an increasingly reactionary and politicized Court, they happily increase the odds of gun violence throughout our country.”

Gov. Ned Lamont called the decision “terrible” in a statement, which said the ruling served as evidence that Congress needed to take action to adopt stronger policies to prevent gun violence.

“Bump stocks essentially turn firearms into automatic weapons for the sole purpose of the mass killings of human beings,” Lamont said. “There is no civilian or self-defense purpose for these devices. I want to make it clear that Connecticut continues to have a law banning the sale, purchase, possession, and manufacturing of bump stock devices in our state and today’s ruling does not impact that. But while we have strong laws in our state, today’s ruling brings us back to a patchwork of individual state laws when what we really need is federal action to prevent gun violence.”

Attorney General William Tong was among a group of attorneys general to write an amicus brief defending the federal ban. On Friday, he called the Supreme Court decision a “serious threat to public safety.”

“This decision has zero impact on Connecticut’s law—which remains strong and enforceable,” Tong said. “But what this means is that, once again, we’re back to a patchwork of state laws and porous interstate borders where federal leadership is sorely needed. I’m going to continue to do all that I can do to advance and defend Connecticut’s lifesaving and necessary gun laws.”

The court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, concluded that weapons equipped with bump stocks did not meet the definition of machine guns, despite their increased firing capabilities.

“A bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does,” Thomas wrote.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion for the court’s liberal justices. She said the court’s decision to reject the ordinary understanding of the term “machinegun” would have “deadly consequences.”

“When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck,” Sotomayor wrote. “A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires ‘automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.’ Because I, like Congress, call that a machinegun, I respectfully dissent.”

Posted by Hugh McQuaid