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Federal Court Tosses Part Of Rule Targeting 'Ghost Guns'

A federal court tossed part of a rule that targeted build-at-home “ghost guns,” Bloomberg Law reports. The rule aims to curb the purchase of serial-less ghost guns by including the disassembled frame of a handgun or the receiver of a long gun as a firearm under federal law. It treats gun kits to the same requirements as fully assembled firearms, meaning dealers must include serial numbers, conduct background checks, and keep records of transactions. But the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the regulation, exceeded “limits on agency authority in the name of public policy,” affirming in part and vacating in part a lower court ruling.

Circuit Judge Andrew S. Oldham in a concurring opinion called the final rule “limitless.” “It purports to regulate any piece of metal or plastic that has been machined beyond its primordial state for fear that it might one day be turned into a gun, a gun frame, or a gun receiver. And it doesn’t stop regulating the metal or plastic until it’s melted back down to ooze," Oldham said.

States are seeking increased enforcement against ghost guns. The easy-to-assemble firearms are untraceable and have no restrictions on who can buy them, according to a lawsuit filed by California, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Violence, and two parents of murdered students claiming the US government’s faulty interpretation of what constitutes a firearm is allowing so-called ghost guns to proliferate. But a collection of manufacturers, dealers, individuals, and gun-rights groups challenged the rule, arguing the Biden administration is trying to change a 50-year-old understanding of the 1968 gun law. "ATF, in promulgating its Final Rule, attempted to take on the mantle of Congress to ‘do something’ with respect to gun control. But it is not the province of an executive agency to write laws for our nation. That vital duty, for better or for worse, lies solely with the legislature,” Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt wrote for the court.


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