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Supreme Court Will Take Up “Ghost Gun” Case This Fall

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By a razor-thin margin, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the challenge to the Biden Administration’s “ghost gun” law.

The case, VanDerStok v. Garland, challenges the Department of Justice’s 2022 Final Rule that redefined important legal terms dealing with guns, including “firearm,” “receiver” and “frame,” making the longstanding American tradition of building personal firearms pretty much a thing of the past.

The vote to hear the case was 4-to-3, with no information released as to who voted for or against hearing the case. It takes four “yea” votes for the Supreme Court to grant a review in a case.

At issue is whether the DOJ and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) overstepped their bounds in promulgating the Final Rule. Plaintiffs in the case argue that the rule is just another example of the bureaucrat-run agencies overstepping their bounds by making laws instead of enforcing them.

That’s exactly what a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found last November when it unanimously ruled to uphold an earlier district court decision on the matter. In that ruling, Judge Kurt Engelhardt, who wrote the majority opinion, agreed in no uncertain terms that the rule was an overstep.

“ATF, in promulgating its Final Rule, attempted to take on the mantle of Congress to ‘do something’ with respect to gun control,” Judge Engelhardt, a Donald Trump nominee, wrote in the opinion. “But it is not the province of an executive agency to write laws for our nation. That vital duty, for better or for worse, lies solely with the legislature.”

Judge Engelhardt further wrote that the Final Rule “flouts clear statutory text” and “exceeds the legislatively imposed limits” on agency authority.

“Because Congress has neither authorized the expansion of firearm regulation nor permitted the criminalization of previously lawful conduct, the proposed rule constitutes unlawful agency action, in direct contravention of the legislature’s will,” the judge wrote. “Unless and until Congress acts to expand or alter the language of the Gun Control Act, ATF must operate within the statutory text’s existing limits.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) on behalf of itself, two individual FPC members and Tactical Machining LLC. News that the Supreme Court would hear the case brought a positive reaction from FPC Founder and President Brandon Combs.

“FPC and our members look forward to the end of President Biden’s unconstitutional and abusive rule,” Combs said in an FPC press release. “We are delighted that the Supreme Court will hear our case and decide this important issue once and for all. The Fifth Circuit’s decision in our case was correct and now that victory can be applied to the entire country.”

Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC Action Foundation president and counsel for the plaintiffs, said the case should teach the ATF a lesson about who is charged with making laws in the country.

“This is an important day for the entire liberty movement,” Wisniewski said. “By agreeing to hear our case, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to put ATF firmly in its place and stop the agency from unconstitutionally expanding its gun control agenda. We look forward to addressing this unlawful rule in the Court’s next term.”

The case has been added to the high court’s calendar for the session beginning in October. Oral arguments in the case are expected to begin sometime this fall.

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