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Will Michigan bar bump stocks after Supreme Court rejects federal ban?

Michigan capitol building in Lansing
After a federal ban on a device that makes semiautomatic rifles fire rapidly, one legislator already intends to introduce a bill banning the devices in Michigan.
  • State senator wants Michigan to ban ‘bump stocks’ in wake of Supreme Court ruling that nullified a 2018 ban
  • Bump stocks enable semiautomatic rifles to fire hundreds of rounds per minute and were used in a 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas
  • Though former President Donald Trump initiated the 2018 federal ban, it’s unclear if any GOP officials would back a state measure

LANSING — Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on firearm “bump stocks,” one state senator said she intends to introduce legislation to prohibit the devices in Michigan.

Bump stocks are added onto a semiautomatic rifle’s stock and allow shooters to fire hundreds of rounds per minute as the gun moves back and forth, bumping against the user’s steady trigger finger.

The court published an 6-3 opinion Friday that overturned a 2018 ban established by the U.S. Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump. 

Soon thereafter, Michigan Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, said she submitted a bill request to draft legislation for the ban. 

“These bump stocks effectively make guns into machine guns. I think the Supreme Court is wrong,” Polehanki said. “No one needs these for hunting or any other reason.” 


The majority ruling in the case, Garland v. Cargill, was written by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and joined by the court’s five other conservative justices. Thomas wrote bump stocks don’t make assault-style rifles into machine guns because they don’t “alter the basic mechanics of firing.”


Bump stocks came under scrutiny after a 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, where rifles outfitted with bump stocks were used to kill 60 people at a music festival and wound more than 400. A single gunman fired more than 1,000 rounds over the course of 11 minutes, according to the Associated Press. 

Then-President Donald Trump later pledged to ban bump stocks, and the Department of Justice announced the change the next year. 

“If Donald Trump thinks bump stocks should not be in the hands of everyday Americans, then I'm sure that people from both sides of the aisle can get on board with this,” Polehanki said. 

Rep. Tom Kunse, R-Clare, said he wouldn’t support efforts to curtail bump stocks in Michigan and asserted any law to that effect would fail in court.

“I think her concern is misplaced. And where she should work is keeping the guns out of the hands of felons and working on enforcing the laws we have,” Kunse said.


Seven states had restricted bump stocks as of mid-2018, according to Stateline, but the implementation had been met with mixed results.

Michigan state government, which is controlled by Democrats for the first time in decades, passed a trio of gun reforms last year in the wake of the mass shooting on Michigan State University’s campus that killed three students. 

It included “red flag” laws, that allow guns to be confiscated from individuals under court order, universal background checks and requirements for the safe storage of firearms in the home. 

The laws went into effect earlier this year and have already been utilized

“If we can't do it at the federal level, we'll do it in the state, we’ll do it at the state level,” Polehanki said. 

Asked by Bridge about addressing bump stocks, a spokesperson for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said they were “reviewing” the Supreme Court’s ruling, while House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, was noncommittal and said it hadn’t been discussed by his caucus.

President Joe Biden, reacting to the ruling, has called on Congress to act to ban bump stocks. 

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