A lower court ruling stopped the Biden administration’s rule on so-called “ghost guns” that can be made at home. On October 6, the Supreme Court reversed that decision, so the rule will stay in place until October 16.
The case of Garland v. Blackhawk Manufacturing Group Inc. got a new decision late on October 6 (court file 23A302) because of an emergency application. In the name of the Biden government, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland sent in the application.
The lower court order is on hold until October 16 at 5 p.m., when it will be lifted.
Gun control fans insult handguns that don’t have serial numbers by calling them “ghost guns” because the police can’t track them down. For years, groups that fight gun violence have been trying to get the U.S. Congress to do something to ban or regulate handguns at the federal level, even though some states already do this.
President Joe Biden said that custom-made guns, which are often put together using gun kits, are “the weapons of choice for many criminals.”
It was made by the government in April 2022: the “frame or receiver” rule. It says that handguns put together by beginners must have serial numbers added to them. Laws also say that people who buy gun assembly kits from sellers have to go through background checks.
This is what the government says: even guns that are shipped are still considered weapons under present law.
On July 5, U.S. Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted an order because the rule was thought to be against the law.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), took more actions than the law allowed them to by controlling “partially manufactured firearm components, related firearm products, and other tools and materials,” according to Judge O’Connor.
The judge said at the time that the rule “is unlawful agency action.”
The government asked the 5th Circuit to stay the lower court’s order to stop the rule, but on July 24, the court said no. The ATF had not shown that a stay would cause irreversible harm or that they had a good chance of winning on the grounds, that was the reason given.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court on August 8. A 5–4 vote supported the government’s control over “ghost guns” while the 5th Circuit looked into the order.
Four conservative justices—Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas—did not agree with the decision.
This rule will stay in place for now thanks to the votes of Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and three liberal judges on the court (judges Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson).
If someone asked the top court in the country to review the case again in the future, they didn’t say that they wouldn’t. The court would then be able to set a date for the oral hearings in the case. It is not possible to give certiorari unless at least four of the nine justices vote in favor of it.
Next, on September 14, Judge O’Connor issued an order that limited the scope of his stay to protect the clients and companies involved in the legal conflict, Defense Distributed and 80 Percent Arms.
The DOJ told the 5th Circuit that the district court was going against what the Supreme Court said.
The 5th Circuit said in a ruling released on October 2 that it did not agree with the DOJ’s reasoning.
“There is a meaningful distinction between vacatur (which is a universal remedy) and an injunction that applies only to two named plaintiffs (which is a traditional equitable remedy),” according to the circuit court judges.
At the same time, the circuit court found that the injunction “sweeps too broadly.”
“Injunctions that afford relief to non-parties are potentially problematic. And it appears the district court’s injunction sweeps too broadly insofar as it affords relief to non-party customers.”
Nevertheless, the court found, “The party-plaintiff manufacturers would be irreparably harmed by being forced to shut down their companies or by being arrested pending judicial review of the Final Rule.”
The Biden administration’s promises that it “will not enforce the Final Rule against customers who purchase regulated ‘frames or receivers’ and who are otherwise lawfully entitled to purchase firearms” are the reason the court said it vacated the injunction as it applied to gun kit customers.
The circuit court also said that Judge O’Connor should look over the case again and make his order more broad in case the administration doesn’t keep its promise not to discriminate against buyers.
“Of course, if circumstances change, the district court is free to narrowly tailor injunctive relief to meet the changed circumstances,” the 5th Circuit stated.
“But as things stand today, the Government is correct that the injunction cannot extend to non-party customers.”
“Likely to succeed on the merits because the Final Rule is contrary to law,” the circuit court said of the people who sued over the rule.
A court order from September 14 by Judge O’Connor has been stopped by the most recent Supreme Court decision.
The decision says that gun part makers who are against the rule have until October 11 at 5 p.m. to give the court their reasons so that they can be thought about before the court does anything on October 16, which is the last day of the brief stay.