Supreme Court Majority Dashes Right-Wing Hopes & Allows Gun Restrictions

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A majority of five Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court has opted to allow the tentative continuance of recent regulatory changes from the federal government that make what are known as ghost guns subject to regulations in line with those already applying to assembled firearms. “Ghost guns” refer to kits available for purchase that, historically, have gone without a serial number and allowed the owner to assemble their own firearm, evading legal oversight of guns.

Legal challenges will continue, but the directive from federal Judge Reed O’Connor that the regulations be suspended has been undone. On the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the three liberal members to form the majority of five that temporarily protected the regulatory updates.

Seeking action from the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar tied concerns about ghost guns to criminal activity, telling Justices that “police departments around the Nation have confronted an explosion of crimes involving ghost guns.” O’Connor had claimed that the originally established Congressional definition of a firearm that would be subject to the federal government’s control and restrictions did not include collections of parts that could be assembled into a functional firearm, meaning ghost guns.

In recent years, other major moves on guns have also become the subjects of extensive court battles. The Supreme Court, for instance, also previously allowed the continued enforcement of a ban in Illinois on assault rifles while other challenges continued. Washington also enacted a ban on such firearms, while other states, such as Michigan and Minnesota, have enacted red flag laws, which are legal frameworks that allow for temporary restrictions on access to firearms by individuals believed to pose a threat to themselves or others. Both those states also expanded their legal demands for a background check for gun purchases.