After lower courts invalidated the regulations, the Supreme Court temporarily reinstated them in August by a decision of 5 to 4.

Supreme Court

The Biden administration’s regulation of “ghost guns,” or kits that can be purchased online and assembled to create untraceable homemade firearms, is being challenged, and the Supreme Court decided to hear the case on Monday.

Administration officials defended the rule, saying it was an essential component of President Biden’s larger campaign to combat gun crime. They pointed out that the popularity of these weapons has increased recently, especially among criminals who are prohibited from purchasing regular guns.

The Gun Control Act of 1968’s definition of “firearm” was interpreted more broadly by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in its 2022 regulation.

Although the new law did not forbid the sale or ownership of parts and kits that can be assembled to construct firearms, it did mandate that producers and distributors acquire licenses, assign serial numbers to their products, and carry out background checks.
Because the 1968 law defined firearms as weapons that “may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive” and “the frame or receiver of any such weapon,” gun owners, advocacy groups, and businesses that manufacture or distribute the kits and components sued to overturn the regulations.

 

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In July, Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas Judge Reed O’Connor concurred with the challengers and overturned the law, stating that “a weapon components kit is neither a firearm, nor is that which has the potential to be transformed into a functional receiver a receiver in and of itself.

“Even if it is true that such an interpretation creates loopholes that as a policy matter should be avoided, it is not the role of the judiciary to correct them,” said George W. Bush-appointed Judge O’Connor. Congress has the last say on that.
Adam Liptak is a Supreme Court reporter who began covering the court in 2008. In 1984, he began working as a copy boy at The Times before leaving to enroll in Yale Law School. Before going back to the newsroom, he practiced law and worked in The Times’ corporate legal department.

Find out about his methods for covering the court. Judge O’Connor’s decision was upheld by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, located in New Orleans. President Donald J. Trump appointed the panel’s three members.

“The proposed rule constitutes unlawful agency action, in direct contravention of the legislature’s will,” Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt wrote for the panel, noting that Congress has neither approved the expansion of firearm control nor permitted the punishment of previously permissible conduct.
Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar said the appeals court’s decision would result in “a flood of untraceable ghost guns into our nation’s communities, endangering the public and thwarting law-enforcement efforts to solve violent crimes,” in an appeal to the Supreme Court to hear the administration’s appeal in the case Garland v. VanDerStok, No. 23-852.

She requested that the justices think of an analogy.

“It is impossible for Ikea to claim that it only sells “furniture parts kits” that need to be assembled by the customer in order to avoid paying a tax imposed by the state on the sale of home goods like tables, chairs, couches, and bookshelves,” the author stated. “The same is true with guns: A non-native English speaker would understand that a company that sells kits that are intended to be assembled into firearms in a matter of minutes and that are marketed, used, and designed specifically for that purpose is in the firearms business.”

In a previous stage of the dispute, a Supreme Court brief from a few of the challengers stated the comparison By a vote of 5 to 4, the court decided to do so in August. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s three liberal members, to form a majority.

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