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Supreme Court allows ATF “ghost gun” rule to remain in effect

In a contentious decision, the Supreme Court this week sided with the Biden administration by allowing a challenged gun regulation to remain in effect while its legality is being litigated.

According to The New York Times, the issue pertains to what the Department of Justice (DOJ) has labeled as “ghost guns”: firearms that can be assembled at home and are untraceable.

Two justices appointed by Republican presidents joined with Democratic appointees in support of this ruling.

Under a rule promulgated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) last year, “parts kits that are readily convertible to functional weapons, or functional ‘frames’ or ‘receivers’ of weapons, are subject to the same regulations as traditional firearms.”

A gun kit business and a collection of pro-Second Amendment groups challenged the rule in court, arguing that it was unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor sided with them, claiming “a weapon parts kit is not a firearm” and “that which may become or may be converted to a functional receiver is not itself a receiver.”

However, on Tuesday the Supreme Court reversed this order and allowed the ATF’s rule to stand for now. This decision saw justices appointed by both Republicans and Democrats agree, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Chief Justice John Roberts along with Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The Solicitor General even compared gun kits to IKEA furniture during his argument before the court.

The ruling was met with approval from Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun organization that voiced their discontent in a statement over what they referred to as “untraceable ghost guns” that are deliberately developed to avoid control.

According to Politico, attorneys representing the plaintiffs and Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar disagreed on whether or not components necessary for making “ghost guns” should be thought of as firearms.

“Every speaker of English would recognize that a tax on sales of ‘bookshelves’ applies to IKEA when it sells boxes of parts and the tools and instructions for assembling them into bookshelves,” Prelogar was quoted as writing in the government’s emergency appeal.

“The court’s insistence on treating guns differently contradicts ordinary usage and makes a mockery of Congress’s careful regulatory scheme,” she continued.

However, the rule’s challengers countered that Prelogar’s IKEA furniture example was not analogous to the situation at hand.

“A better analogy would be to a ‘taco kit’ sold as a bundle by a grocery store that includes taco shells, seasoning packets, salsa, and other toppings, along with a slab of raw beef,” they wrote.

“No one would call the taco kit a taco. In addition to ‘assembly,’ turning it into one would require cutting or grinding and cooking the meat — and until that was done, it would be nonsensical to treat it as food and the equivalent of a taco,” the lawyers added.

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2 Responses

  1. An 80% lower receiver is NOT readily convertible to functional weapons, nor are the functional ‘frames’ or ‘receivers’ of weapons until they are milled, so are NOT subject to the same regulations as traditional firearms.

    The problem is that no one on the Supreme Court is an avid gun enthusiast, or knowledgeable on the subject, and it is unlikely they will be advised by someone who is.

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