Supreme Court’s Bump Stock Ruling Reminds Us That Fear-Based Policies Lead to More Government

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled against the Trump-era ban on bump stocks, devices that gained notoriety after the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. The ruling highlights the debate over gun control and federal overreach.

However, it should also serve as a reminder of how the government, in collaboration with media, can leverage the fear of a tragedy to gradually expand its power.

Bump stocks are attachments that enable semi-automatic firearms to fire at a rate similar to fully automatic weapons. The device became infamous after Stephen Paddock used the device to murder 58 people and injure hundreds more who were attending a concert in Las Vegas. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

New Reports Are Emerging About the Final Days of Preparations for the Las Vegas Shooter

This prompted the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to enact a rule banning bump stocks, a highly controversial move that was widely criticized by members of the gun rights community, who rightly argued that it was a violation of the Second Amendment.

The court ruled that the Trump administration did not possess the authority to reclassify bump stocks as machine guns under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which defines a machine gun as a weapon that can fire more than one round per trigger pull.

Those opposing the regulation pointed out that bump stocks do not turn semi-automatic firearms into machine guns because it does not alter the fundamental mechanism of the trigger pull.

The court ruled that such a reclassification would have to be passed by Congress, not arbitrarily enacted by the executive branch.

As RedState’s Bonchie notes, "This ruling is important because the court has now set the precedent of interpreting the NFA based on its clear language and not grossly exaggerated executive decrees.”

Supreme Court Delivers Major Gun Rights Victory With Bump Stock Decision

After the Las Vegas shooting, the government and media took advantage of the fear Americans were experiencing in the aftermath to push for more gun control measures. As with any other mass shooting, Paddock’s actions were highly politicized and exploited by the anti-gunner lobby.

Disgusting: Democrats Jump on Opportunity to Push Gun Control
in Wake of Las Vegas Shooting

The ATF swiftly responded, enacting the bump stock ban. This is what happens when the elites capitalize on people’s fears and other emotions to make the case for giving the state more power to violate our rights. Fear-based policies rarely lead to solid policy and are often used to infringe on our liberties. It is the same method that was used by Congress under President George W. Bush’s administration when it used fears over terrorism to pass the Patriot Act, which grew the government even more rapidly.

When tragedy strikes in such a dramatic fashion, it is understandable to be fearful and outraged. It is appropriate to demand action from those tasked with defending our rights. But this situation shows that the populace cannot afford to allow itself to be manipulated into supporting or allowing the state to impose policies that lead to more violations of rights while not actually addressing the problem at hand.

There can be little doubt that if bump stocks had been banned before 2017, Paddock would still have used one to commit these murders. He may have had to work slightly harder to do so, but anyone intent on killing people isn’t going to let a ban stop them, a fact that unfortunately plays out every day on the streets in major cities.

If we are going to be a free nation, Americans have to remember that sacrificing rights for the illusion of safety is not going to make us safer, but it will make us less free in the long run.



Trending on RedState Videos