Appeals court strikes down ATF’s ‘ghost gun’ restrictions

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled on Friday that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) lacks the authority to enact the restrictions on “ghost weapons,” or firearms with no serial numbers.

The ruling upholds an earlier court decision which held that the ATF had exceeded its powers. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the restrictions to go into effect while the case was being appealed.

“The agency rule at issue here flouts clear statutory text and exceeds the legislatively-imposed limits on agency authority in the name of public policy,” wrote Judge Kurt Engelhardt, according to The Hill. In promulgating the Final Rule, ATF attempted to assume the role of Congress in attempting to “do something” with regard to gun control. It is not up to an executive agency, however, to create laws for the nation. This vital duty is solely the responsibility of the legislature.”

The decision is a blow for President Joe Biden who has called on tighter firearms restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. The Supreme Court had struck down the New York State requirement for concealed carry permit holders to demonstrate a necessity to carry a gun earlier in Biden’s administration. Since the Bruen ruling, a number of gun rights suits have been filed across the country to challenge gun control measures.

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Biden, however, has managed to gain some congressional approval for gun control, passing the Bipartisan Safety Communities Act in 2022.