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Supreme Court sides with Biden on gun control on ‘ghost guns,’ overruling lower court

The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C., on September 25, 2018.(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
October 17, 2023

The Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling Monday, enabling the Biden administration to continue to enforce regulations against “ghost gun” sales.

According to The Associated Press, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Blackhawk Manufacturing and Defense Distributed, two gun manufacturers in Texas, must comply with the Biden administration’s regulations that are intended to reduce the difficulty of tracing ghost guns, which are firearms that lack serial numbers.

The Supreme Court vacated the U.S. Judge Reed O’Connor’s Sept. 14 injunction that prevented the Biden administration from enforcing a federal regulation implemented in 2022 to target the sale of ghost guns.

According to The Hill, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision marks the second time the court has intervened to allow the Biden administration to enforce its regulations against ghost gun sales. The Supreme Court’s latest intervention came after the Biden administration claimed that lower courts ignored the Supreme Court’s authority and prior ruling against ghost guns.

“The application to vacate injunction presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is granted,” the Supreme Court order states. “The September 14, 2023 order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, case No. 4:22-cv-691, is vacated.”

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The Supreme Court’s first intervention on behalf of the Biden administration’s regulation against ghost guns occurred in August, when the Supreme Court handed the Biden administration a temporary victory by pausing a lower court’s ruling against the ghost gun regulation until the Biden administration could present a full appeal.

In court filings for the most recent Supreme Court intervention, President Joe Biden’s Justice Department described the lower court’s rulings as “extraordinary and unprecedented.” The Justice Department argued that the Supreme Court’s first ruling that the Biden administration could continue enforcing the 2022 ghost gun regulation should have been followed by lower courts.

“The district court and the Fifth Circuit have effectively countermanded this Court’s authoritative determination about the status quo that should prevail during appellate proceedings in this case,” the Justice Department wrote. “In so doing, the lower courts openly relied on arguments that this Court had necessarily rejected to grant relief that this Court had withheld.”

Last year, the Biden administration implemented the ghost gun regulation, expanding federal mandates such as background check requirements, records of gun sales, and serial numbers pertaining to ghost guns, according to The Hill.

The regulation expanded the definition of a firearm to include unfinished parts of firearms, such as a handgun frame or a long gun receiver in order to allow guns to be more easily tracked. The controversial mandate pertains to ghost guns made from gun kits, 3D printers, or from the assembly of individual firearm parts.

The Biden administration’s full appeal is currently moving forward with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.