Nessel Calls ‘Ghost Gun’ Regulation Reinstated by SCOTUS ‘Essential’

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during a news conference, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, outside of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office in Flint. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

By Michigan Advance

August 10, 2023


MICHIGAN—The US Supreme Court on Tuesday narrowly voted to reinstate a Biden Administration policy against so-called  “ghost guns,” which Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says is “essential” to efforts at curbing gun violence.

The 5-4 decision, which granted a stay of enforcement against a ruling by the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, only temporarily allows the regulation to remain in place while the administration pursues the appeals process. 

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas—who are part of the court’s right-wing majority—sought to keep the rule suspended pending a final decision. But they were outvoted when Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett—two other GOP-appointed justices—joined with the court’s three liberal members, Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. No explanation was provided by either side.

Ghost guns are unserialized weapons, often put together from weapon parts kits or partially complete frames and receivers, which can be purchased without background checks.

The regulation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) requires the guns to have serial numbers and mandates that sellers keep transaction records of the sales and administer background checks on those who purchase the kits.

“Every day we rely on common sense regulations to prevent guns from ending up in the wrong hands, and exempting ghost guns from any oversight has been disastrous. Untraceable handguns that can be sold without background checks or records of sale are a danger to every person in every community,” Nessel said. “The Biden administration rules to regulate the sale of these weapons are essential in protecting the public from gun violence. These regulations close a catastrophic loophole and will make our communities safer for our loved ones and for our law enforcement officers.” 

Nessel and 20 other attorney generals filed an amicus brief last year in support of the rule. She also testified in March before the Michigan Senate in support of gun safety legislation, since passed and signed into law, that expanded background checks, established safe storage guidelines, and created a process for Extreme Risk Protection Orders or “red flag” laws. 

More recently, Nessel joined a coalition of 17 state attorneys general advocating for a federal restriction on handgun sales to individuals under age 21. 

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license. 


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