Sen. Cotton says banning bump stocks ‘treads close to the line’ of being unconstitutional

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Sunday that legislation enshrining the Trump-era ban on bump stocks “treads close to the line” of violating the Second Amendment following the Supreme Court reversal of that prohibition Friday.

“On the legislative question, I would suggest before we infringe on the rights of law-abiding American citizens, we should crack down on violent crime, gun crimes,” Cotton said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

When pressed on whether he thinks a bump stock ban would violate the Second Amendment, Cotton said, “I think it could.”

“It treads close to the line,” he added. “You’d want to look at the legislative language, but more than anything, what we need to do to stop crime in this country is to get tough on crime.”

Cotton touted Friday’s Supreme Court decision invalidating the prohibition on bump stocks — which convert semiautomatic weapons into ones capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute — as an example of the court not taking an outcome-based approach. The ban was passed under former President Trump. The 6-3 ruling was decided on ideological lines.

“What you saw on Friday was the opposite of that. You saw the six Republican-appointed justices reversing a Trump administration regulation. That’s the opposite of an outcomes-based judging. They focused on the text and the meaning of statutes and of our Constitution, exactly as they should,” Cotton said.

The Biden administration defended the regulation in front of the high court after the Trump administration first implemented it in the wake of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history. The shooter had used guns equipped with a bump stock to kill 60 people and wound hundreds of others.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations have since made possessing the devices a criminal offense by having the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives classify them as machine guns under long-standing federal law. The case did not implicate the Second Amendment.

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