New Jersey Pushes for Supreme Court Review of "Ghost Gun" Regulations


Coalition of 20 States Backs Federal Efforts to Equate Ghost Gun Oversight with Conventional Firearms.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, along with attorneys general from 19 other jurisdictions, has submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court. This brief supports the federal government's request to review a decision by a lower court that invalidated regulations on "ghost guns" - firearms made from kits or partial components that lack serial numbers and are difficult to trace. These regulations, aimed at ensuring such weapons undergo the same federal oversight as traditional firearms, have been challenged in the case of Garland v. VanDerStok.

The disputed regulations, known as the Final Rule and implemented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), seek to bring ghost guns under the purview of the federal Gun Control Act. This includes mandating background checks for purchasers of gun kits or parts, requiring these items to have a unique serial number, and obligating manufacturers to maintain records to aid law enforcement in tracing guns used in crimes. Since 2018, the manufacture and possession of ghost guns have been illegal in New Jersey, highlighting the state's proactive stance on this issue.

The brief emphasizes the preliminary success of the Final Rule in reducing the presence of privately made firearms involved in crimes within New Jersey. Citing data from the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), the brief notes a significant drop in the recovery of such firearms since the Rule's enforcement began in August 2023. Comparatively, the first two months of 2024 saw a nearly 66% decrease in the recovery of privately made firearms used in crimes, compared to the same period in 2023.

This legal effort reflects a broader concern over gun violence as a public health issue, with states seeking effective strategies to protect their residents. Attorney General Platkin highlighted the importance of the regulation in aiding law enforcement and preventing homemade guns from falling into the hands of those ineligible to pass background checks.

The coalition, including the District of Columbia and states like California, New York, and Illinois, has actively participated in various stages of litigation surrounding this regulation. Their collective stance underscores a commitment to reinforcing commonsense measures against the proliferation of untraceable firearms.

This initiative is part of New Jersey's continued legal actions to advocate for stringent gun control measures, including recent defenses of landmark firearms legislation at the federal level. The united front of the 20 jurisdictions in this Supreme Court amicus brief signals a significant moment in the ongoing debate over gun control laws and the regulation of ghost guns in the United States.

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