1 of 2 | On Tuesday, U.S. Supreme Court justices decided 5-4 to temporarily reinstate the Biden administration's restriction of so-called ghost guns, the kinds of weapons made from kits that contain prefabricated firearms components and which are practically untraceable. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled 5-4 to temporarily reinstate the Biden administration's restriction of so-called ghost guns after a lower court struct down the rules.
Ghost guns are kits that contain prefabricated firearms components that can be sold and assembled in a way that makes them practically untraceable.
Conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Bown Jackson in temporarily reinstating nationwide regulations under the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms restricting the sale of ghost gun kits.
The 2022 regulation from the ATF under the Gun Control Act of 1968 changed the definition of a firearm to include kits that "may readily be converted to expel a projective by the action of an explosive."
In June, a Texas court blocked the ATF's regulations, arguing they went too far in restricting gun rights.
The government appealed the decision, but in July the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District largely refused to reverse the lower court's decision.
In July, Justice Samuel Alito issued an order temporarily reinstating the regulation and giving opponents of the regulations until Aug. 4 to respond.
In her filing on behalf of the Biden administration, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said the change did not outright ban the sale of ghost gun kits but would instead require the kits to be licensed and marked with serial numbers. The change also would require background checks for people purchasing kits.
"If a state placed a tax on the sale of tables, chairs, couches, and bookshelves, IKEA surely could not avoid that tax by claiming that it does not sell any of those items and instead sells 'furniture parts kits' that must be assembled by the purchaser," Prelogar said in her filing.
Ultimately the court sided with the administration and decided to grant a stay.
"The application for stay presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is granted," the court wrote in its order.
"Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh would deny the application for a stay," the court said.
The court's ruling does not permanently reinstate the regulations, but instead allows for them to be enforced while further legal battles ensue.
In 2021, law enforcement recovered nearly 20,000 so-called ghost gun kits.