Biden’s ATF Wins a Round in SCOTUS on Ghost Guns but the Outlook Is Grim for the Feds

The Supreme Court handed the Biden ATF its second victory in as many months on its controversial “ghost gun” regulation. In an unsigned order, the Supreme Court set aside an injunction blocking enforcement issued by Judge Reed O’Connor (GW Bush appointee to the Northern District of Texas). As an aside, O’Connor is a Second Amendment warrior, standing up to the ATF on ghost guns and pistol braces (Biden’s BATFE Gets Dealt Major Blow in Pistol Brace Case).

Ghost guns refer to firearms made by individuals constructed from components that lack commercial serial numbers. The components can be bought in kits that come with tools for assembly. The ATF finalized a rule to treat ghost guns like traditional firearms under federal gun laws in April 2022. The rule went into effect in August of that year.

In brief, the rule treats ghost gun kits and components the same way it treats traditional firearms. It requires serial numbers to be placed on the firearm’s frame or receiver and manufacturers to be licensed. It also requires dealers and gunsmiths to run background checks before selling kits. Kits containing all the parts needed to readily assemble a firearm must now include a serial number and seller information. Incomplete kits without those things can still be sold without restrictions. 

This regulation was always much more of a sop to the far left and the suburban Karens who make a career out of telling other folks what they do and do not need than any concern about public safety (Biden Trips All Over Himself and Tells a Boatload of Lies at Gun Control Event. 

This is the second trip to the Supreme Court for Judge O’Connor’s injunction. On June 30, he issued his first injunction barring enforcement of the ghost gun rule anywhere in the US. The government appealed the ruling. The Fifth Circuit upheld O’Connor’s ruling but narrowed its scope. On August 8, the Supreme Court temporarily stayed the injunction and allowed the government to continue to enforce the rule pending appeal.

Two of the original plaintiffs returned to court a few days later and asked that O’Connor issue another injunction that applied only to them. He agreed, and the Fifth Circuit upheld the injunction. It is this injunction that the Supreme Court set aside yesterday. Biden’s chief pettifogger, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, was not amused by having to win the same fight twice.

In an emergency application asking the Supreme Court to intervene, Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar wrote, in unusually sharp language, that the lower courts had indeed flouted the justices’ authority and “effectively countermanded this court’s authoritative determination.” She added that “the court should not tolerate that affront.”
She went on: “The lower courts openly relied on arguments that this court had necessarily rejected.”

The Fifth Circuit was not impressed.

“We are unpersuaded by the government’s insistence that the district court flouted the Supreme Court’s Aug. 8 order,” a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit wrote this month in an unsigned opinion refusing to pause a trial judge’s ruling in favor of the manufacturers.

I think this will be a temporary victory for the ATF and the thugs at Biden’s Justice Department.

The August Supreme Court ruling was 5-4, with Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh indicating they would have left the injunction in place. The standard for an injunction is that the judge believes you will prevail on the merits. So when this case hits the Supreme Court, assuming the makeup of the court remains the same, the ATF has four votes against it. Odds are that Coney Barrett will join them and quite possibly Roberts.

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