A federal judge in Texas has overturned a federal ban on “ghost guns,” providing a setback to the Biden administration’s gun control policy. United States District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) exceeded its authority by classifying unfinished gun parts as guns that can be regulated. According to O’Connor, these parts do not fall under the definition of guns according to federal law.
In his order, O’Connor addressed the question of whether the federal government has the right to regulate partially manufactured firearm components and related products in accordance with the Gun Control Act of 1968. He concluded that the government’s recently enacted final rule is unlawful agency action taken beyond the ATF’s statutory jurisdiction. He further stated that the ATF is attempting to regulate a gun component as a “frame or receiver” despite acknowledging that it is not actually a frame or receiver. O’Connor argued that a part cannot be both a receiver and not yet a receiver at the same time, thereby invalidating the agency’s argument.
Pro-firearms groups and websites celebrated the ruling as a victory against what they viewed as the Biden administration’s encroachment on Second Amendment rights through federal rulemaking. The case was brought by the Firearms Policy Coalition, an organization advocating for the protection of Second Amendment rights. Cody J. Wisniewski, representing the coalition, expressed delight with the court’s decision, stating that it rightly rejected the ATF’s rule, as the agency never had the authority to publish it in the first place. The Second Amendment Foundation, another pro-gun rights group, also praised the ruling as an important response to the Biden administration’s attempts to overstep its authority and restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
The Department of Justice (DOJ), which is expected to appeal the case, has not yet issued a public comment on the ruling. The DOJ’s decision will ultimately determine whether the ban on ghost guns will be reinstated or permanently overturned. The Epoch Times has reached out to the agency for further information.
Last April, Attorney General Merrick Garland signed the ATF’s final rule defining a “frame or receiver.” The ATF claims that the rule was necessary due to technological advancements and legal developments since the original definitions were established in 1968 and 1971. The rule states that only one part of a firearm, referred to as the “frame” or “receiver,” requires a serial number. This part serves as the housing or structure for a specific primary fire control component of weapons or a specific primary internal sound reduction component of firearm mufflers or silencers.
Gun control groups, such as Everytown Research, commended the Biden administration for issuing the ban. These groups argue that ghost guns, which can be assembled from readily available parts without background checks or serial numbers, pose a significant safety threat. They claim that these firearms are popular among violent criminals, gun traffickers, dangerous extremists, and individuals prohibited from purchasing guns legally. Everytown Research points to instances of school shootings involving ghost guns as evidence of the dangers posed by these unregulated weapons.
While the judge’s ruling provides temporary relief for pro-gun groups, the future of ghost gun regulations remains uncertain. The case is likely to be appealed, and a higher court’s decision will ultimately determine the fate of the ATF’s ban on ghost guns.