SCOTUS Justice Jackson Just Said the Dumbest Thing About Guns and I Can't Stop Laughing

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson must have fallen asleep last night watching a vintage '80s Chuck Norris movie as part of her preparation to hear oral arguments today in the Garland v. Cargill bumpstock ban lawsuit because her understanding of firearms is even less realistic than your typical Cannon Films production.


While I don't have the transcript yet for you — arguments are going on as I write this column — the Firearms Policy Coalition has been doing the good work of posting highlights to Twitter/X.

(Don't miss the update below from the official transcript.)

When it was time for the Biden Department of Justice to present its side to the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas asked what happens, according to the FPC, "with the trigger in a bump stocked rifle vs a full-auto rifle."

Please don't wet yourself laughing when you read the government's response.

My 14-year-old self, forever trapped in 1983, would have just one thing to say to a rifle that would let me fire 600 rounds a second: "BITCHIN'!"

Justice Jackson, with images of Chuck Norris killing an entire battalion of Vietnamese soldiers with a single magazine in "Missing in Action 2: The Beginning" still fresh in her mind must have thought, "600 rounds? I raise you 200 rounds to 800 — each and every second."

ASIDE: Every time I read the words "Justice Jackson" I can't help but think that's what Action Jackson went into after he retired from the force.

Anyway, this was Jackson's contribution to the discussion.

I dunno, maybe she wasn't paying full attention and misheard the government's ridiculous claim.

I'm not singling out Justice Jackson for any special mocking here — just the regular amount. Jackson was speaking off the cuff, and everybody makes mistakes doing that. While it's extra unbecoming for a Justice of the Supreme Court to demonstrate such laughable ignorance about a case she's supposed to be hearing with her own ears, the government took its time to prepare its case — they wrote stuff down and everything — and still managed to come up with 600 rounds per second.


Some days I wish firearms could do all the things that gun-grabbers claim they can do.

Do I really want an AR-15 that can fire 800 rounds per second? I mean, assuming I could find a magazine with that kind of capacity? No, obviously. The barrel would melt, the bullets would spray all over the place, and I'm having trouble imagining what would happen when 800 brass cartridges go flying out all over the range in a single second.

That one second would also put a serious dent in my .223 stash.

Still... what a glorious second that would be.

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It'll piss off Justice Jackson, I swear.

UPDATE: SCOTUS did a great job of getting the transcript posted, so I found the relevant bits for you.

MR. FLETCHER: [speaking to Chief Justice Roberts] What you are doing is just pushing forward. Now, if you look at the videos that we cite in Footnote 1 of our reply brief, some of them are in slow motion, and they show that when the shooter is doing this, the hand is moving back and forth very fast, 600 times a second. That's not happening because the shooter is able to move their hand back and forth 600 -- or, I'm sorry, 600 times a minute.

So the Firearms Policy Coalition got the first part right but then missed the correction. Easy to do while essentially liveblogging — I should know. Still, 600 rounds per minute is only slightly less impossible than 600 rounds per second. Even if under some extreme circumstances a bumpstock-enhanced cyborg were able to fire that quickly, a semi-automatic rifle wouldn't stand up to the strain — and where would the rounds come from?


And here's Justice Jackson: "And when, you know, 'function' is defined, it's really not about the operation of the thing. It's about what it can achieve, what it's being used for. So I see Congress as putting function in this. The function of this trigger is to cause this kind of damage, 800 rounds a second or whatever."

I think "or whatever" pretty well sums up Jackson's interest in learning about firearms.


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