Supreme Court allows ghost gun regulations to continue as appeal is heard

August 9, 2023
Jen Krausz

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Tuesday to pause a lower court ruling tossing out regulations on ghost guns--homemade and without serial numbers, allowing regulations to remain in place until an appeal is decided.

Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh dissented from the majority opinion and would have kept the guns unregulated until an appeal is decided.

The regulations imposed a year ago treat ghost guns and parts of guns the same way as other firearms in the U.S., requiring serial numbers and background checks for sales.

Biden put the regulation in place because of a rising number of ghost guns being made with 3D printers and other equipment becoming readily available to individuals.

The problem

The Justice Department said it seized more than 19,000 ghost guns from crime scenes in 2021, which was a 10-fold increase from just five years earlier.

But gun rights groups and a firearms parts manufacturer have argued that the definition of a gun can't be changed except by Congress and that Biden is overstepping his authority with the regulation.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, in Fort Worth, Texas agreed with that reasoning last June, ruling that a firearm part does not fit the definition of a firearm in federal law.

Biden appealed, and then sued to keep the regulation in place until the appeal is heard.

Doesn't make sense

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to put this regulation in place if it is overturned on appeal. By then, thousands of ghost guns and parts will have been forced to add serial numbers and licensure when they really didn't need to.

The Supreme Court's reasoning here seems flawed, unless they know something we don't about how the appeal is going to go.

It would be easier to slap the regulations on after the fact than to undo what has already been done in regulating the guns.

At the same time, it does make sense that if other guns are regulated, homemade ones should be too.

Biden determined

Congress is unlikely to pass further gun regulations in its divided state, which means that unless the courts or Biden handle it, nothing is likely to happen.

Biden seems bound and determined to put as many regulations on guns as he possibly can, whether or not they violate the Constitution's separation of powers and the Second Amendment, because that's his party's agenda and he's not going to challenge it.

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