Federal judge strikes down ATF's 'ghost gun' regulations

July 4, 2023

In a major loss for the Biden administration, a federal judge ruled last week that a ban on so-called "ghost guns" cannot be enforced. 

According to The Epoch Times, that decision came on Friday from Judge Reed O'Connor, who presides over the Northern District of Texas.

ATF found to have exceeded authority

At issue was a strategy by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to crack down on what it calls "ghost guns"--weapons that have been manufactured at home without unique serial numbers.

The ATF contended that it has the authority to regulate unfinished gun parts as if they were firearms, something O'Connor rejected.

"This case presents the question of whether the federal government may lawfully regulate partially manufactured firearm components, related firearm products, and other tools and materials in keeping with the Gun Control Act of 1968," he explained.

"Because the court concludes that the government cannot regulate those items without violating federal law, the court holds that the government’s recently enacted final rule … is unlawful agency action taken in excess of the ATF’s statutory jurisdiction. On this basis, the court vacates the final rule," the judge wrote.

Judge points to "logical contradiction"

O'Connor pointed to a contradiction in the ATF's reasoning, as it sought to regulate a gun component as a "frame or receiver" despite having already determined that "the component in question is not a frame or receiver."

"Logic dictates that a part cannot be both not yet a receiver and receiver at the same time," the judge stressed, adding, "Defendants' reliance on that logical contradiction is fatal to their argument."

The case was brought by a pro-Second Amendment organization called the Firearms Policy Coalition, and it welcomed O'Connor's ruling.

Pro-gun groups "thrilled" by decision

"We’re thrilled to see the Court agree that ATF’s Frame or Receiver Rule exceeds the agency’s congressionally limited authority," Firearms Policy Coalition spokesperson Cody J. Wisniewski was quoted as saying in a statement.

"With this decision, the Court has properly struck down ATF’s Rule and ensured that it cannot enforce that which it never had the authority to publish in the first place," he added.

Adam Kraut serves as director of the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Times noted that he also released a statement hailing Friday's decision.

"This case is one more example of the Biden administration’s ongoing effort to exceed its authority in an effort to place as many restrictions as possible on the rights of law-abiding gun owners," Kraut declared.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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