‘Frustrating’: A Delaware survivor of the Las Vegas mass shooting reacts to Supreme Court overturning bump stocks ban

A spokesperson with the Delaware Department of Justice says it is reviewing the ruling. Delaware banned bump stocks in 2018.

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an aerial view of the site of a mass shooting shows turned over chairs and investigators working

FILE - Investigators work the site of a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, Oct. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. The U.S. Supreme Court, Friday, June 14, 2024, struck down a ban on the rapid-fire rifle bump stock used by the gunman who rattled off over 1,000 bullets in 11 minutes in Las Vegas in 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Delaware’s ban on bump stocks could be in jeopardy after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era rule. Bump stocks are a gun accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns. The devices were used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that the federal government did not follow the law when it  banned bump stocks after a gunman, armed with assault rifles, attacked a country music festival in Las Vegas in 2017. The shooter fired more than 1,000 rounds in 11 minutes, killing 58 people at the scene and injuring hundreds. Two people died later because of complications from their injuries.

“It feels very dismissive of what people went through that day when 58 people died, because I can tell you right now that 58 people wouldn’t be dead if the shooter hadn’t had the aid of that bump stock,” said Wilmington resident Megan O’Donnell Clements when she found out about the Supreme Court verdict. “So that feels a little bit like a slap in the face.”

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a selfie of Megan O'Donnell Clements
Megan O’Donnell Clements (Courtesy of Megan O’Donnell Clements)

Clements and her friends were at the festival and were able to escape unhurt. Since surviving the rampage, Clements has fought for gun restrictions in Delaware and nationally as a part of groups such as Moms Demand Action.

After the shooting, Clements said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s written a book about recovering from the sadness and grief that plagued her.

a collage shows A collage showing Clements' bloody knees and three pictures smiling with friends before the shooting
A collage showing Clements’ bloody knees from escaping the October 2017 mass shooting at the country music festival in Las Vegas, and pictures from the night before the shooting. (Courtesy of Megan O’Donnell Clements)

“I couldn’t even go into a grocery store without looking for an exit or looking at the people differently,” Clements said. “You look at every person that you pass differently, and there’s no sense of like, comfort or stability in your life anymore.”

a white backpack with a design of roses
Clements’ bloody backpack she was carrying the night of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. (Courtesy of Megan O’Donnell Clements)

Friday’s verdict was the result of a legal proceeding that started with a Texas gun shop owner challenging the ban. Military veteran Michael Cargill argued that the Justice Department wrongly classified the accessories as illegal machine guns. Cargill was represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a group funded by conservative donors such as the Koch network. Cargill’s attorneys acknowledged that bump stocks allow for rapid fire, but argued that they are different because the shooter has to put in more effort to keep the gun firing.

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Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have their own bans on bump stocks. Delaware banned bump stocks and similar devices in 2018, making it a felony to buy, sell and transfer them. The state initiated a buyback program. A spokesperson for the Delaware Department of Justice says they’re reviewing Friday’s court decision. The legislation state lawmakers passed does not define bump stocks as “machine guns.”

Delaware’s gun control legislation garnered several lawsuits over the years, with opponents arguing that the laws are unconstitutional. Gov. John Carney recently approved a law requiring Delawareans to obtain permits to purchase handguns and undergo a state police background check and a training course. Just hours after Carney signed the bill into law, five plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court challenging its legality. The plaintiffs argued that the law violates the state constitution and the Second, Fourth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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