U.S. Supreme Court justices have struck down a federal prohibition on bump stocks—the same week gun rights activists secured victories in two other cases.

The court found in its 6-3 ruling along ideological lines that the National Firearms Act’s ban on the public sale of fully automatic weapons could not be interpreted to also bar the use of bump stock accessories for firearms.

Bump stocks, attachable devices to semiautomatic firearms that allow them to fire more quickly, were first banned by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives during the Trump administration.

It was approved roughly one year after Stephen Paddock killed 60 and wounded hundreds at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, using a semiautomatic firearm modified with a bump stock.

The regulation, approved in December 2018, stipulated that owners of bump stocks had to destroy and dispose of them within 90 days before the rule became effective in March 2019. It also banned the sale of the devices.

Firearm activists criticized the administrative justification behind the decision, however. The new regulation hinged upon the federal government’s reclassification of guns with bump stocks as “machineguns.”

The Supreme Court decision agreed with those activists, noting that bump stocks do not meet the statutory definition of a machinegun, which necessitates that a gun be able to fire automatically “by a single function” of the trigger.

Justice Clarence Thomas argued instead that it does little more than what a shooter with an exceptional trigger finger could do during a “bump fire.” Currently, the ATF does not classify bump-fired semiautomatic firearms as machineguns.

“The question in this case is whether a bump stock transforms a semiautomatic rifle into a ‘machinegun,’ as defined by §5845(b) [of the NFA],” Thomas wrote in the court’s majority opinion. “For many years, the … (ATF) took the position that semiautomatic rifles equipped with bump stocks were not machineguns under the statute.”

For a bump stock ban to proceed, the ruling stated, it would need to start in Congress and not the executive branch. President Joe Biden heeded that call on Friday afternoon, urging Congress to act immediately.

“We know thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Biden stated in a White House press release. “I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapon ban, and take additional action to save lives – send me a bill and I will sign it immediately.”

Meanwhile, Texas Gun Rights President Chris McNutt called the ruling a “monumental victory for the Second Amendment and a stern rebuke to the ATF’s reckless overreach.”

“Although we won this battle, we know the ATF’s war on gun owners is far from over. TXGR will continue fighting to rein in and ultimately abolish this tyrannical agency,” added McNutt.

The Supreme Court’s decision came one day after a federal district court blocked a recent ATF rule categorizing pistols with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles, siding with the gun rights group Firearms Policy Coalition.

Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court in Northern Texas’ Fort Worth division found that the ATF offered no satisfactory explanation for its radical change of course on whether braces substantially modify firearms.

“The Final Rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act’s procedural requirements because it was arbitrary and capricious and was not a logical outgrowth of the Proposed Rule,” wrote O’Connor, who also criticized the rule’s clarity.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, told Texas Scorecard that he was proud of his group’s involvement in previously securing a temporary injunction on the stabilizing brace rule.

“Similar to the bump stock ban, which was overturned by SCOTUS today, this ban on pistol braces was a complete 180 from prior guidance at ATF, and it must not be allowed to stand,” explained Pratt.

The ATF’s record of issuing “complete 180s” was on full display earlier this week as well, when the agency was handed another loss.

The U.S. District Court in Northern Texas’ Amarillo division sided with Texas, alongside a coalition of other states and gun advocacy groups, in issuing a preliminary injunction on the ATF’s April rule restricting private gun sales.

“Texas has secured an injunction against Biden’s unlawful ATF rule that would criminalize the private sale of guns. Biden’s unconstitutional rule cannot be enforced in Texas,” stated Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “I’m proud to fight and win for our Second Amendment rights.”

Luca Cacciatore

Luca H. Cacciatore is a journalist for Texas Scorecard. He is an American Moment inaugural fellow and former welder.