Sotomayor Blasts Thomas’s Bump Stocks Ruling in Fiery Dissent from the Bench


Sonia Sotomayor, Justice in a fiery dissension harshly condemned a Supreme Court ruling on Friday which rejected a bump stock ban. She said it “eviscerates the congressional regulation” of machine guns.

Sotomayor, a liberal Justice, wrote: “Today the Court places bump stocks back into civilian hands.” She was joined in her dissent by Elena Kagan and Ketenji Brown Jackson. To do so, the Court rejects Congress’s definition and adopts one that is incompatible with the ordinary meaning and purpose of the statute text.

The court ruled 6 to 3 against the Biden administration on ideological grounds, concluding that the bans imposed by Trump and Biden, by classifying bump stocks as machine guns, went far enough.

Thomas’ decision stated that “we conclude that a semiautomatic rifle with a bump-stock is not a machinegun” because it only fires one shot by a single pull of the trigger.

Sotomayor rejects this reasoning.

She continued, “When I see an animal that swims, walks, and quacks just like a goose, I’ll call it a goose.”

Sotomayor’s rare decision to read her dissent on the bench was a way of highlighting her disapproval. This was the first dissent she had read this term.

This is not a difficult case. “All of the textual proof points to the same interpretive conclusion,” she continued, criticizing the majority’s interpretation because it ignored common sense and relied instead on obscure technical arguments.

She wrote: “Its meaning can only be understood by six diagrams and an animation.”

Sotomayor stated that the decision “allows gun users and manufacturers to circumvent federal laws.”

In 2017, the Trump Administration first implemented the federal ban on bump stocks after a gunman had used the device to kill 58 people in a mass shooting in Las Vegas and injure hundreds more. The Biden administration defended and supported the ban in court.

Michael Cargill of Austin, a gun store owner challenged the ban on bump stocks after surrendering two in 2019 He was supported by the National Rifle Association and other major gun advocacy organizations.

The case was not about implementing the Second Amendment, but rather whether the Trump Administration, through its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, had stretched the definition of a machine gun too far to include bump stocks.

The Supreme Court will soon decide on another gun case involving the Second Amendment. The justices are considering whether a federal law criminalizing gun ownership for those under domestic violence restraining order is constitutional.