WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday ordered two internet sellers of gun parts to comply with a Biden administration regulation aimed at ghost guns, firearms that are difficult to trace because they lack serial numbers.
The regulation changed the definition of a firearm under federal law to include unfinished parts, like the frame of a handgun or the receiver of a long gun, so they can be tracked more easily. Those parts must be licensed and include serial numbers. Manufacturers must also run background checks before a sale — as they do with other commercially made firearms.
The requirement applies regardless of how the firearm was made, meaning it includes ghost guns made from individual parts or kits or by 3D printers.
“Absent relief from this Court, therefore, untraceable ghost guns will remain widely available to anyone with a computer and a credit card — no background check required,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, wrote.
In the unsigned, one-paragraph order in August, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and fellow conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson in approving the government’s plea to reinstate the restrictions.
Conservatives Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh noted they would have denied the government’s request. Neither side explained its reasoning.
“Ghost guns” are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and those whose criminal records keep them from buying guns in the marketplace. Ghost gun sales and their use in violent crimes have spiked sharply in recent years, law enforcement agencies say.