Clarence Thomas, textualism, bump stocks
Creating opportunities for mass death, let us count the ways. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion striking down a Trump ban on bump stocks which increase a semi-automatic rifle’s discharge rate, making it as deadly as a machine gun — but the court majority found it was technically not a machine gun.

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In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a Trump-era rule banning bump stocks, attachments that increase a semi-automatic rifle’s firing rate to hundreds of rounds per minute. 

The justices ruled that bump stocks do not qualify as machine guns under federal law, which defines machine guns as weapons firing multiple shots automatically with a single trigger pull.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, emphasized that the ATF’s interpretation extending the ban to bump stocks exceeded statutory authority, highlighting Congress’s failure to explicitly outlaw such devices. 

And the Court depended on the logic of textualism, a method of statutory interpretation that asserts that a statute should be interpreted according to its literal meaning. 

While you’re here enjoying DonkeyHotey’s latest cartoon, please take a moment to read these articles on related topics: 

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Clarence Thomas caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0 DEED), body (Nur Andi Ravsanjani Gusma / Pexels), table (Ingo Joseph / Pexels), woods (Agnes Monkelbaan / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED), wall (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Wikimedia – CC BY 2.0 DEED), bump stock (WASR / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED), and casings (Clément Dominik / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED).


  • DonkeyHotey

    DonkeyHotey creates art to illustrate news articles and opinion pieces. His current work is a combination of caricature, photo collage, and photo manipulation.

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