Supreme Court Takes Up Gun Cases Involving First Amendment

The issue of weapons has returned to the U.S. Supreme Court as a battle ensues between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the federal government over the barring of bump stocks, an accessory for firearms.

Bump stocks are merely a replacement for a rifle’s standard stock – the part held against one’s shoulder. After being installed, bump stocks allow the weapon to slide back and forth smoothly, resulting in another trigger pull, although the shooter’s finger hasn’t moved, thereby releasing another shot.

When thinking of the NRA, many form a link between the gun rights organization and the Second Amendment, but in its recent case to the Supreme Court, the organization is citing the First Amendment, according to Breitbart News.

The NRA’s petition to the high court accuses the head of New York’s Department of Financial Services of using “pressure tactics—including backchannel threats, ominous guidance letters, and selective enforcement of regulatory infractions—to induce banks and insurance companies to avoid doing business with” the NRA because it supports the Second Amendment.

Now, the issue for the justices will be whether New York’s financial department services is overreaching its authority in pressuring private businesses to refrain from conducting business with a business with an ideology differing from the federal government. The NRA’s lawyers argued that such an action is a violation of the organization’s First Amendment rights.

“The public importance of this case cannot be overstated. A regulatory regime—even a facially content-neutral one—that inhibits protected freedoms of expression and association violates the First Amendment,” the lawyers wrote.

“An overt campaign by state officials to wield regulatory power against a disfavored civil rights organization—here the NRA—precisely because of its disfavored speech at least as clearly merits this Court’s attention and reversal,” they added.

On the same day that the court took up the NRA’s case, it also decided to bring forth another case involving firearms.

The U.S. Supreme Court will also be tasked with deciding on a regulation issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the agency’s defining of such stocks as a machine gun.

A machine gun is defined by federal law as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.”