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‘Ghost Gun’ Regulations: U.S. Supreme Court Temporarily Reinstates, Biden’s Regulations ,Great News

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily reinstated a federal regulation aimed at controlling privately manufactured firearms known as “ghost guns,” which are challenging for law enforcement to trace. This decision follows a request from President Joe Biden’s administration to revive the regulation while their appeal is considered.

The Supreme Court’s decision, with a 5-4 vote, suspended a ruling made on July 5 by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas. Judge O’Connor’s ruling had halted the enforcement of a 2022 rule across the nation, pending the administration’s appeal. The court’s majority, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, aligned with the three liberal justices, granting the administration’s request. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.

Judge O’Connor had concluded that the administration had overstepped its authority in implementing the rule under the 1968 Gun Control Act. This rule pertains to ghost guns, which are privately assembled firearms lacking the customary serial numbers required by federal regulations.

The regulation, issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), is aimed at curbing the proliferation of homemade firearms. It specifically targets “buy build shoot” kits that can be acquired without background checks, whether online or in stores. These kits can be rapidly assembled into functional firearms.

The rule clarifies that ghost guns are classified as “firearms” according to the Gun Control Act, broadening the definition to encompass parts and kits easily convertible into guns. It mandates the inclusion of serial numbers and requires manufacturers and sellers to be licensed. Additionally, the rule necessitates background checks for purchasers before completing a sale.

Ghost Gun
Ghost Gun

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 70% of Americans support the requirement for ghost guns to have serial numbers and be produced exclusively by licensed manufacturers. This sentiment is bipartisan, with 80% of Democrats and 61% of Republicans expressing approval.

According to White House data, approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns were reported to the ATF in 2021 as recovered during criminal investigations. This marked a tenfold increase from 2016.

President Biden’s administration sought the Supreme Court’s intervention on July 27, urging them to halt O’Connor’s ruling that invalidated a Justice Department restriction on the sale of ghost gun kits. This halt will remain in place while the administration appeals to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans.

Alito, who handles urgent matters from a group of states including Texas, temporarily blocked O’Connor’s decision, granting the Supreme Court time to deliberate on the best course of action.

The administration argued that allowing O’Connor’s ruling to stand would facilitate the “untraceable flow of ghost guns into our communities.”

Plaintiffs, including gun owners, parts manufacturers, and two gun rights groups – the Firearms Policy Coalition and Second Amendment Foundation – challenged the rule in a Texas federal court. They contended that the rule violated the Gun Control Act, portraying it as a threat to the long-established tradition of legal private gunsmithing in the U.S.

Judge O’Connor blocked the rule, asserting that the congressional definition of a firearm “does not encompass weapon parts, or combinations of weapon parts, regardless of whether they can be easily assembled into something capable of firing a projectile.” He also dismissed the administration’s concern that this ruling would enable felons, minors, and other prohibited individuals to effortlessly manufacture firearms.

“Even if this interpretation leads to loopholes that should be avoided as a matter of policy,” O’Connor wrote, “it is not the judiciary’s role to rectify them.”

The United States, which holds the highest rate of gun ownership worldwide, remains deeply divided over how to address firearm violence, including frequent mass shootings.

In a series of significant rulings since 2008, the Supreme Court has expanded gun rights, including a 2022 decision that affirmed, for the first time, an individual’s constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.

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