NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots network, Moms Demand Action and its legal arm Everytown Law, released the following statements in response to the Biden Administration requesting the Supreme Court stay the Northern District of Texas’ extreme decision to invalidate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) ghost guns rule. Everytown for Gun Safety, joined by Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and March For Our Lives, today also submitted an amicus brief in support of the Administration’s request for emergency relief. The Biden Administration’s request to the Supreme Court comes after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused the Administration’s request to intervene, leaving the ATF’s rule in peril.
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. Earlier this month, a single federal judge in the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide order blocking the rule. Last week, the Fifth Circuit, without any meaningful explanation, declined to put the lower court’s order on hold.
“Untraceable ghost guns are a dream come true for criminals and a nightmare for law enforcement, so we applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for forcefully defending its rule to make sure these deadly weapons are regulated like conventional firearms,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The firearm industry shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which laws it’s required to follow, which is why Everytown is joining President Biden in calling on the Supreme Court to block the extreme decision that came out of Texas.”
“Too often, extreme judges put the gun lobby’s agenda over public safety, and that’s exactly what happened in this case,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, Executive Director of Moms Demand Action. “The Texas court’s ruling will absolutely put lives at risk, and it already has, but the Supreme Court has the opportunity to take action by blocking this deadly decision – and it must.”
“Judge O’Connor’s decision to invalidate the ATF’s ghost guns rule was not only deadly and reckless – but it flies in the face of the plain text of the Gun Control Act and simple logic, both of which make clear that ghost guns kill like guns and they must be regulated like guns,” said Eric Tirschwell, Executive Director of Everytown Law. “Everytown is grateful to the Biden Administration for calling on the Supreme Court to block this extreme decision and we are proud to submit an amicus brief in support of the Administration’s petition.”
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.
Cooley LLP filed the amicus brief on behalf of Everytown, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and March For Our Lives.
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.