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Supreme Court to decide if Biden administration can regulate ‘ghost guns’

The Supreme Court has decided to investigate the validity of the regulations put in place by the Biden administration to control so-called “ghost guns.” An ongoing legal dispute centers on the question of regulatory jurisdiction about these rifles, which may be built at home using kits that can be found online.

The restrictions at issue here were struck down by lower courts, prompting the Biden administration to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. The rules are still in place even if there is a lawsuit going on. The conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and liberal Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined forces in a 5-4 ruling last August to support the enforcement of the laws.

The ATF restrictions, which were established in 2022, are an attempt to curb the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are difficult for authorities to track because of their undetectable characteristics. The government says these guns are dangerous and should not be in the hands of the people.

According to the new rules, the components of “ghost guns” are now considered “firearms” under the federal Gun Control Act. The government is claiming the right to control these parts just as it does with conventionally made and marketed guns.

The rules state that anybody making or selling ghost gun kits needs a license, must put a serial number on their product, must verify customers’ backgrounds, and must keep records. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas sided with the people and organizations who are fighting these rules, saying they are an abuse of power. Her decision came down last year.

The importance of the issue has been acknowledged by both the Biden administration and the challengers, leading to the intervention of the Supreme Court. Opponents contend that the ATF lacks the authority to amend the current statute to include a broader definition of “firearm” and that Congress should handle any required revisions.

Although the Supreme Court has a long history of upholding gun rights—including a seminal decision in 2022 that acknowledged the right to carry a handgun outside of one’s home—the focus of the “ghost guns” case is on the power to regulate rather than on Second Amendment rights. A conservative majority on the Supreme Court is now considering a lawsuit pertaining to ATF rules; specifically, the prohibition on “bump stocks,” a device that allows semiautomatic guns to fire more rapidly.

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