Supreme Court Allows Biden ‘Ghost Gun’ Regulations For Now

WASHINGTON – A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday backed a Biden administration effort to regulate “ghost guns,” temporarily allowing the government to require manufacturers of the untraceable weapon kits to conduct background checks on customers and mark their products with serial numbers.

Ghost gun kits allow people to purchase parts that can be built into a weapon without the usual regulations that come with an assembled gun. President Joe Biden last year required companies selling the do-it-yourself kits to adhere to the same rules as other gunmakers, such as keeping records that help police trace the weapons.

The Supreme Court agreed 5-4 on Tuesday to pause a lower court’s ruling, allowing the Biden administration to enforce the rule while the underlying case continues. The lineup meant Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Chief Justice John Roberts, both conservatives, sided with the court’s three-member liberal wing to keep the Biden rule in place for now.


Supreme Court backs Biden’s tougher federal rules on untraceable ‘ghost guns’

The change, Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar wrote in the Biden administration’s emergency application, was needed to respond to “the urgent public safety and law enforcement crisis posed by the exponential rise of untraceable firearms.”

 Prelogar wrote that there has been “an explosion of crimes involving ghost guns,” pointing to a sworn statement from an A.T.F. official. More than 19,000 firearms without serial numbers were recovered by the authorities in 2021, the official said, compared with about 1,600 in 2017. He added that in the 11 months ending in July, “a total of approximately 23,452 suspected privately made firearms were recovered at crime scenes and submitted for tracing.”

Such weapons are particularly attractive to criminals and minors, Ms. Prelogar wrote, adding that they “can be made from kits and parts that are available online to anyone with a credit card and that allow anyone with basic tools and rudimentary skills (or access to internet video tutorials) to assemble a fully functional firearm in as little as 20 minutes.”


In the court’s coming term, which starts in October, the court will weigh the scope of that decision in a case concerning whether people accused of domestic violence have a right to own firearms.


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