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Victory for Gun Safety: Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Rebuffs Gun Lobby’s Challenge to Biden Administration’s Ghost Gun Rule, Everytown for Gun Safety Responds


NEW YORK – Today, in yet another set-back for the gun industry and in a victory for gun safety, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a challenge to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) ghost gun rule in a case brought forward by Gun Owners of America and others. 

The rule, which was finalized in April last year and took effect last August, confirms that ghost guns are to be treated like the deadly firearms they are. ATF’s rule updated and clarified key definitions, including “firearm,” “frame,” and “receiver” to ensure that kits and components that are easily assembled into untraceable ghost guns are subject to the same regulations as firearms. Last month, a single federal judge in the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide order blocking the rule. The Biden Administration petitioned The Supreme Court to stay the Texas court’s decision, which was granted earlier this month.

Today’s decision by the Eighth Circuit is yet another victory for gun safety in the courts, allowing the Biden Administration’s common-sense and life-saving rule to stay in effect. 

“Ghost guns shoot like guns and kill like guns – only an extremist could look at these deadly, untraceable weapons and argue they shouldn’t be treated like guns,” said Nick Suplina, Senior Vice President for Law and Policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Today’s decision by the Eighth Circuit is yet another setback to the gun lobby as they continue their relentless pursuit of upending any and all gun safety laws and regulations in the courts.”

“Federal law clearly regulates not only finished firearms, but also gun building kits and the key components of firearms that can easily be converted into deadly weapons,” said Eric Tirschwell, Executive Director of Everytown Law. “The Eighth Circuit’s rejection of the gun lobby’s request to halt the ghost gun rule is yet another victory for gun safety in the courts. We are optimistic that courts across the country will continue to rule in favor of common-sense and public safety.”

Everytown recently joined with other gun violence prevention groups in filing an amicus brief urging the Eighth Circuit to reject this gun lobby challenge to the ATF’s new ghost gun regulations.

The Washington Post recently reported on how American teenagers can, with ease, acquire the parts for ghost guns, often leading to deadly outcomes. Everytown Law recently filed a suit in Virginia on behalf of the estates of two 17-year-old Virginians who were shot and killed by an 18-year-old classmate using an unserialized, self-assembled ghost gun purchased from ghost gun seller 80P Builder. 

ATF estimates that nearly 45,240 ghost guns have been recovered by law enforcement between 2016 and 2021, and local law enforcement agencies are seeing staggering increases in rates of recovery — rising as much as 100 percent in the last three years in places like San Diego and Los Angeles. Other communities have seen significant ghost gun recoveries, with sharp increases in the past year. In 2022, ATF recovered 25,785 ghost guns in domestic seizures, as well as 2,453 through international operations. So far in 2023, the Department has recovered more than 10,000 privately made firearms (PMF’s) domestically and 1,000 internationally. According to the LAPD, the department recovered 1,921 ghost guns in 2021, more than double the 813 ghost guns recovered in 2020. In Philadelphia, the police reported recovering 571 ghost guns, compared to 95 in 2019 and 250 in 2020. Ghost guns have also been weapons of choice for militant right-wing extremists and people who otherwise would not be able to pass a background check. In recent months, the country has also seen an increase of gun fire on school grounds with ghost guns and recoveries of ghost guns on campuses. Schools in Arizona, New Mexico, Maryland, and Kansas have been devastated with these instances of gun fire on school grounds – highlighting a scary trend and another important reason to regulate these guns. 

Everytown has compiled examples of ghost gun shootings from across the country since 2013, available here. Everytown’s report on ghost guns, featuring testimonials from law enforcement officers, can be found here.