Vermont joins states urging Supreme Court to uphold federal restrictions on ‘ghost guns’

Ghost gun illustration photo by Rudy and Peter Skitterians2

Maryland Matters Staff Report
©2024 Maryland Matters

Vermont has joined 21 states, the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands urging the Supreme Court to uphold federal restrictions on “ghost guns,” unregistered and untraceable weapons that can be assembled at home from kits.

The brief, filed Wednesday by attorneys general from the 24 jurisdictions, argues that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not exceed its authority when it passed a rule requiring that gun manufacturers and dealers treat ghost gun kits like firearms: adding serial numbers, keeping records on their sale and conducting background checks on buyers.

The ghost gun rule was a 2022 amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act, which regulates firearm sales nationally. The attorneys general said the federal rule is needed “to close a loophole allowing individuals to avoid ‘State and local laws controlling firearms by the simple expediency of crossing a State line to purchase one.’” They said that preliminary results indicate that ghost-gun recoveries have declined since the new rules took effect.

The rule was challenged by gun-rights advocates, who argued that ATF exceeded its authority when it created the new rule under the Gun Control Act, which only “regulates weapons, not weapon part kits.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in November 2023 that the ATF “has essentially rewritten the law. This it cannot do.” But while it ruled against the regulation, the circuit court allowed it to stand while the court case proceeded.

In an unusual twist, the opponents of the regulation agreed with the supporters of it that the case should be taken up by the Supreme Court to settle “once and for all whether ATF’s Rule expanding the definition of ‘”‘firearm’ to include weapon parts kits” is legal.

The Supreme Court agreed in April to hear the case, Garland v. VanDerStok in the term that begins in October, but it has not yet set a date for arguments.

Republished under the Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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