LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Nevada law banning bump stocks remains in place after Friday’s ruling that struck down a federal law.
The state law passed in 2020, three years after the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting by Stephen Paddock that killed 58 people the night of the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Strip. Two additional deaths have since been added to the death toll. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Bump stocks are devices that enable a shooter to rapidly fire multiple rounds from semi-automatic weapons after an initial trigger pull.
The 13-3 ruling Friday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals in New Orleans sent the matter back to a lower court. The Associated Press reports that the decision doesn’t have an immediate effect as the lower court decides how to proceed. The appeals court rejected the description of a bump stock as “a machine gun” — a description that had survived other court challenges in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in early October of 2022.
The 5th Circuit Court ruling is the latest on the issue, which is likely to be decided at the Supreme Court.
The case doesn’t involve Second Amendment rights to bear arms, instead focusing on interpretation of federal statutes by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Nevada’s law includes language that describes the function of a bump stock, outlawing devices that serve the function.
NRS 202.274 outlaws the “import, sale, manufacture, transfer, receipt or possession of certain semiautomatic firearms, devices or parts that modify semiautomatic firearms.”
Bump stocks harness the recoil energy of a semiautomatic firearm so that a trigger “resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter,” according to the ATF. A shooter must maintain constant forward pressure on the weapon with the non-shooting hand, and constant pressure on the trigger with the trigger finger, according to court records.
Paddock used the device when firing on the crowd of country music fans from a hotel room window at Mandalay Bay. He killed himself as police closed in on his location. The date has become known as 1 October.
Separate legislation known as “Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act” has been sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. She tweeted after the Jan. 6 ruling, urging the passage of the act.
The legislation calls bump stocks by name and describes how they turn semiautomatic weapons into machine guns.
The bill was introduced in the House on Nov. 9, 2021 and passed, but was dropped in the Senate.