Saturday, July 29, 2023

Alito Temporarily Revives ATF Regulations on "Ghost Guns" as Supreme Court Considers Emergency Appeal

Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

On Friday, a ruling from a lower court which dismissed the Biden administration's limits on so-called "ghost guns" was momentarily halted by Justice Samuel Alito, thereby temporarily reinstating a regulation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Alito put forth a brief directive granting an administrative stay that would last until 5 p.m. on August 4. He granted the party contesting the ATF regulation, comprising of gun owners, manufacturers, and firearms advocacy organizations, until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to respond to the administration's appeal to reinstate the rule.

The Biden administration called for immediate intervention from the Supreme Court on Thursday, requesting the apex court to suspend a decision by a federal district court in Texas that discarded the rule managing ghost guns.

The rule by the ATF, implemented in August 2022, modified its guidelines regarding the meaning of a "firearm" under the Gun Control Act to tackle the growing issue of ghost guns. The rule described a "firearm" to "include a kit of weapon parts that can or is intended to be readily completed, assembled, restored, or alternatively converted to release a projectile through the explosive action."

The rule also expanded the definition of "frames or receivers," which are also offered in kits, to consist of a "partially finished, dismantled, or dysfunctional frame or receiver, including a frame or receiver parts kit," that can be made operational. This new interpretation of the law required manufacturers and sellers of certain kits to acquire licenses, label their products with serial numbers, execute background checks, and keep records to aid law enforcement in tracking firearms used in crimes.

The conflict brought before the Supreme Court last year involved two gun owners, two advocacy groups, and entities that manufacture or sell the products subject to the rule. They contested parts of the ATF's limitations— the inclusion of weapons parts kits under the "firearm" definition and updated interpretation of "frame or receiver" — as unlawful.

A federal district court blocked these disputed provisions, preventing the Biden administration from implementing them, but refrained from issuing a nationwide injunction.

Subsequently, earlier this summer, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor sided with the plaintiffs and obstructed the regulation nationwide, ruling that the ATF had overstepped its legal authority. The Biden administration appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to overturn the lower court's decision, but the appeals court refused to do so concerning the two disputed provisions. The 5th Circuit hastened the Biden administration's appeal and is scheduled to hear arguments in September.

Nonetheless, the Biden administration appealed to the Supreme Court, asking it to suspend the district court's order. If the court declines, the administration requested the Supreme Court to take up the case and conduct hearings in the fall.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote, "The district court's universal revocation is causing irreparable damage to the public and the government by allowing the surge of untraceable ghost guns into our nation's communities. Once these guns are sold, the harm is irreversible: some will already be in the possession of criminals and other banned persons — and when these guns are inevitably used in crimes, they are untraceable."

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  1. I'm so tired of this every time we make a tiny bit of progress some A-hole second amendment er has to block common sense gun laws saying it's unconstitutional. All because MAGA Republicans have twisted the second amendment to mean something it doesn't!! You don't get unfettered access to guns period! All because four stupid words, shall not be infringed. I once had someone say to me ,my 2nd amendment rights aren't subject to your fear. Yes they are and they should be! remember you A-hole 2nd amendment ers every time a child's is killed because of a law you blocked that would have saved their precious lives ,their blood is on your hands! I'll leave you with this we are Majority, you are the minority.! I will NEVER except the war zone Republicans and the NRA has made of America. #VOTETHEMOUT #REPUBLICANSGOTTOGO. #VOTEBLUEINALLELECTIONS

    1. First of all the whole argument is predicated on a lie. They talk about not being able to trace them. Well, the fact is you can’t trace the majority of guns in the US. A gun is only traceable to the first person who bought it from an FFL, after that it may have been sold a hundred times. It’s a false argument. The majority of guns that criminals use are stolen.

    2. Uh, hello stupid! When the hell did criminals start caring about the law? It doesn’t matter if they are illegal or not, if someone wants something they will still get it. You must be a democrat the way you bash all republicans like a misinformed, illiterate child. Not all republicans are bad, and not all democrats are idiots. But the ones that think like you are, in fact, the problem with our country today.

  2. Those who refuse to remember history will be swallowed by its own ignorance