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Supreme Court To Decide If U.S. May Regulate 'Ghost Guns'

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider whether the Biden administration can lawfully regulate so-called ghost guns, firearms that are made from kits available online that people can assemble at home, NBC News reports. The justices took up a Biden administration appeal in defense of regulations that a lower court invalidated. The provisions are in effect while litigation continues. The Supreme Court allowed the regulations to be enforced last year. The rules were issued in 2022 by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to tackle an increase in the availability of ghost guns. The rule clarified that the parts used to make ghost guns fit within the definition of “firearm” under the federal Gun Control Act, meaning the government has the power to regulate them the same way it regulates firearms made and sold through the traditional process. The regulations require manufacturers and sellers of the kits to obtain licenses, mark the products with serial numbers, conduct background checks and maintain records.


Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor last year ruled in favor of Jennifer VanDerStok and Michael Andren, who own components they want to use to build guns. Plaintiffs also include gun rights groups and makers and sellers of ghost guns. After the Supreme Court allowed the regulation to remain in effect while litigation moved forward, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals mostly ruled for the challengers. "Because Congress has neither authorized the expansion of firearm regulation nor permitted the criminalization of previously lawful conduct, the proposed rule constitutes unlawful agency action, in direct contravention of the legislature’s will," the ruling said. If that decision were allowed to go into effect, "anyone could buy a kit online and assemble a fully functional gun in minutes — no background check, records, or serial number required," U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote. "The result would be a flood of untraceable ghost guns into our nation’s communities, endangering the public and thwarting law-enforcement efforts to solve violent crimes," she added.

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