Editors at the Washington Examiner explain why a recent gun-related ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court had little connection to the Second Amendment.

To the ignorant and opportunistic, Friday’s Supreme Court decision invalidating a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms regulation that had banned a firearm accessory known as the “bump stock” looks like a Second Amendment decision. The Supreme Court invalidated federal law that restricted gun ownership, therefore this must have been a Second Amendment decision.

But in this case, Garland v. Cargill, the Second Amendment had nothing to do with the reasoning of the Court and anyone who suggests otherwise is letting Congress off for not doing its job of legislating.

Almost 90 years ago, in response to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and other mob violence, Congress passed the National Firearms Act. which, among other things, restricted access to “machineguns,” which the legislation defined as any weapon with the ability to “shoot, automatically more than one shot … by a single function of the trigger.”  

For decades, the ATF held that the National Firearms Act restrictions on machine guns did not apply to “bump stocks,” which is a firearm accessory that, once installed on a semiautomatic rifle, makes it easier to “bump fire” the rifle. …

… Following the mass shooting in October 2017 in Las Vegas, in which one man used a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock to murder 58 people, President Donald Trump ordered the ATF to change course. Although several pieces of legislation were introduced in both chambers of Congress that would have changed the law to ban bump stocks explicitly, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) decided not to bring such legislation to the floor and suggested it would be easier politically for Trump to make a regulatory change. Trump did so. …

… Whether or not there was bipartisan support for a bump stock ban after the Las Vegas shooting, Congress did not act on it. No new law was passed. The Supreme Court cannot treat Congress’s desire as law if the legislature merely introduces legislation by does not pass it.