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Bump Stocks and Congressional Neglect

On a horrific night in October 2017, a gunman in Las Vegas opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers, killing 60 people and injuring over 500 more. A semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock was used, enabling the gunman to fire rapidly into the crowd. This horrifying event shocked the nation and led to widespread demands for action to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

In response, the Trump administration directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to classify bump stocks as machine guns, which are generally illegal for private citizens under Federal law. While this move temporarily addressed the issue, it was a stopgap measure.

Today, June 14, 2024, the Supreme Court ruled that the ATF had overstepped its authority. The Court disagreed that bump stocks constitute machine guns and stated that only Congress can classify bump stocks as machine guns. Though they may try to deflect responsibility, Congress failed to act. The Trump Administration bought them time by implementing the stopgap measure, but Congress squandered it.

Congressional inaction not only left a dangerous loophole in our gun laws but also underscored an even more troubling recent trend in our political system: an overreliance on the President to take actions that should be the responsibility of Congress.

When the executive branch overreaches due to congressional inaction, it upsets the balance of power that our founding fathers carefully designed. The Constitution created three coequal branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—to ensure no single branch could dominate. This separation of powers protects our freedoms and ensures fair governance. When one fails to act, another branch jumps into the void, knocking our democracy off balance.

This trend toward concentrating power in the president’s office is dangerous. It threatens the democratic principles upon which our nation was built and undermines public trust in the government’s ability to function effectively. When Congress fails to do its job, it compels the president to act unilaterally, often in ways that exceed their intended authority.

Our representatives in Congress must be held accountable. They must address urgent issues, pass necessary laws, and work collaboratively to serve Americans' best interests. We cannot allow legislative inaction to force the executive branch to overstep its bounds.

Bottom line: While the Trump administration's action on bump stocks provided a temporary solution, Congress was responsible for creating a lasting one. Their failure to do so is a failure to the American people. It's time for Congress to step up, fulfill its constitutional duties, and restore the balance of power essential for a healthy and functioning government.

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