(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday handed another setback to gun rights advocates challenging President Donald Trump’s ban on “bump stock” devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly.
With two conservative justices dissenting, the court refused to temporarily exempt from the ban a group of plaintiffs including the Firearms Policy Foundation while their legal challenge continues to be litigated in Washington.
The Supreme Court twice previously rejected requests by gun rights advocates - in the case in the U.S. capital and a similar one in Michigan - to temporarily block the ban while legal challenges proceed in lower courts.
The ban, which went into effect on March 26, was embraced by Trump following a 2017 massacre in Las Vegas that killed 58 people in which the gunman used bump stocks.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had temporarily blocked the ban’s enforcement against the specific challengers in the litigation it was handling, but on April 1 ruled in the administration’s favor and refused to lift the ban.
The challengers then returned to the Supreme Court to try to prevent the policy from applying specifically to them. In Friday’s order, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said they would have granted the request to exempt the challengers.
Bump stocks use a gun’s recoil to bump its trigger, enabling a semiautomatic weapon to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which can transform it into a machine gun.
The ban requires owners to turn in or destroy the attachments. People caught in possession of them could face up to 10 years in prison. The ban represents a rare recent instance of gun control at the federal level in a country that has experienced a series of mass shootings.
Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham