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Supreme Court allows Biden admin. to enforce ‘ghost gun’ regulations for now

Confiscated ghost guns at a San Diego Police Department news conference. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
August 08, 2023

The United States Supreme Court has temporarily allowed the Biden administration to enforce its “ghost gun” regulations, putting on hold a lower-court ruling that blocked the regulations nationwide. “Ghost guns” are virtually untraceable homemade firearms assembled from kits or 3D-printed parts.

The Supreme Court was split on the decision, voting 5-4 to allow enforcement while a legal challenge of the regulations moves forward in the courts.

Conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with the court’s three liberal justices – Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson – to form the majority.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh said they would deny the Biden administration’s request to enforce the rules while legal proceedings continue.

The legal challenge is over a measure from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that took effect one year ago, which changed the definition of a “firearm” under the Gun Control Act to include ghost gun kits.

Under the Biden administration’s new rule, manufacturers and sellers of ghost gun kits must obtain licenses and their products must include serial numbers. They must also conduct background checks and maintain records for law enforcement purposes, CBS News reported.

“We refuse to sit idly by and allow the government to infringe on your rights. Republicans, Democrats, legislators, presidents, agencies—and judges—are ALL beholden to the Constitution of the United States of America,” Gun Owners of America, a Second Amendment advocacy group, tweeted in opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision.

Last year, the ATF announced a new app that will allow users to make anonymous tips about crimes involving firearms, explosives, arson and more.

The ATF tweeted that the bureau is working with Report It, a mobile app that uses “AI inspired technology” to help “prevent incidents before they occur,” according to the company’s website. The ATF app gives users a simple way to “anonymously and confidentially submit tips about crimes.” 

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.