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Supreme Court reinstates regulation of ghost guns, firearms without serial numbers

by Joshua Brown
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fokus keyword Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has moved to restore regulations that limit the spread of ghost guns, or firearms that lack serial numbers and have been increasingly found at crime scenes across the country. The court voted 5-4 on Tuesday to suspend a ruling from a Texas federal judge, which had struck down the Biden administration’s regulation of ghost gun kits. The regulation will remain in force while the administration appeals to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, and possibly the Supreme Court later.

The majority in the court was formed by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and the three liberal justices, while Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas voted against it. There was no explanation given by either side.

The Justice Department highlighted the significant increase in ghost guns found at crime scenes, with more than 19,000 seized in 2021, a tenfold increase over a five-year period.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar emphasized the importance of public safety in a court filing, arguing that the need to control ghost guns far outweighed the minimal costs incurred by the regulation.

The reinstated rule, issued last year, redefines a firearm under federal law to include unfinished parts like handgun frames or long gun receivers, enabling easier tracking. Such parts must now be licensed, serialized, and subject to background checks like other commercially produced firearms. The rule applies to all forms of creation, including those from kits or 3D printers, but does not prevent the purchase of kits or firearms.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor had previously struck down the rule, asserting it went beyond the authority of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and called for Congress to possibly amend the law.

The decision to restore the regulation was met with frustration by some in the gun community, who claimed the ATF had overstepped its bounds. Conversely, gun violence prevention advocates such as the Giffords Law Center applauded the court’s decision, emphasizing the importance of treating ghost gun kits as the firearms they represent, a step they believe will save lives.

Further details on the Supreme Court’s activities can be found at AP’s U.S. Supreme Court coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Supreme Court

What are ghost guns?

Ghost guns are firearms without serial numbers that can be made from individual parts or kits or by 3D printers. They have been increasingly found at crime scenes across the U.S.

Who voted in favor of reinstating the regulations on ghost guns in the Supreme Court?

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and the three liberal justices formed the majority in a 5-4 vote to reinstate the regulations.

What does the reinstated rule regarding ghost guns entail?

The rule changes the definition of a firearm under federal law to include unfinished parts, like the frame of a handgun or the receiver of a long gun, so they can be tracked more easily. These parts must be licensed and include serial numbers. Manufacturers must also run background checks before a sale, and the rule applies to all methods of creation, including kits or 3D printers.

How did U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor view the ghost gun regulation?

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the rule, concluding that it exceeded the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ authority. He suggested that Congress might need to change the law.

What has been the response from gun rights and gun control advocates?

Gun rights advocates, including the Firearms Policy Coalition Action Foundation, expressed disappointment with the decision, arguing that the ATF overstepped its bounds. Conversely, gun control groups like the Giffords Law Center praised the decision, emphasizing that regulating ghost gun kits as firearms will save lives.

Where can further details on the Supreme Court’s activities be found?

Further details on the Supreme Court’s activities can be found at AP’s U.S. Supreme Court coverage.

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5 comments

Sarah_Jane August 9, 2023 - 1:55 am

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision. We need to keep tabs on these things. Ghost guns might be a new term for many, but it’s a real issue that needs addressing.

Reply
Tech_Guru89 August 9, 2023 - 4:04 am

Wow, so they can make guns with 3D printers now? thats the future i guess, but it’s kinda scary if you think about it.

Reply
Mike_in_TX August 9, 2023 - 9:21 am

Judge O’Connor had it right. Congress should be the ones to make these decisions not some agency like ATF. Just another example of overreach!

Reply
James_T August 9, 2023 - 12:16 pm

Finally, something being done about these ghost guns. Its about time someone took action. People dont realize how dangerous they can be. Go SCOTUS!

Reply
KarenB August 9, 2023 - 5:16 pm

What about our 2nd ammendment rights? Seems like the government is always overstepping and taking away our freedom. Whats next?

Reply

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