New Jersey Attorney General Leads Charge in Supreme Court for Stricter Ghost Gun Regulations


Matthew J. Platkin spearheads a multistate effort to extend federal gun control measures to ghost guns, aiming to enhance public safety.

NEW JERSEY - New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin is at the forefront of a nationwide initiative to regulate ghost guns with the same rigor as traditional firearms. Joining forces with 23 other attorneys general, Platkin has co-authored an amicus brief for the Supreme Court case Garland v. VanDerStok, supporting a federal rule aimed at closing significant loopholes in ghost gun regulation.

Ghost guns, which lack serial numbers and can be assembled from kits, are currently purchasable without background checks, making them a go-to for individuals legally barred from owning firearms, such as felons and minors. In response, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) crafted a Final Rule under the 1968 Gun Control Act to ensure these weapons and their components are subject to the same legal requirements as manufactured guns, including serial numbering and background checks.

This rule also mandates comprehensive record-keeping by manufacturers, aiding law enforcement in tracing weapons used in crimes. The move is particularly relevant for New Jersey, where ghost guns have been banned since 2018 but continue to pose a threat due to interstate trafficking.

The Supreme Court's review of this rule follows a lower court's decision that challenged the federal regulations. Preliminary data underscores the rule's effectiveness: New Jersey State Police reported a significant drop in crime-related privately made firearms (PMFs) recoveries after the rule’s implementation—from an average of 34 PMFs per month to about 19 in the latter months of 2023. Furthermore, the first half of 2024 saw a nearly 50% decrease in PMF recoveries compared to the same period in 2023.

“Ghost guns are a pernicious scourge, and we are standing up to ensure that homemade guns cannot wreak havoc in our communities,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Without ATF’s important rule, law enforcement are left to navigate a patchwork system of laws that allow otherwise untraceable guns to slip through the cracks. Gun violence is a public health crisis, and we need every tool available to combat it. There is no time to waste.”

The brief highlights the disturbing trend that a majority of individuals caught with PMFs have criminal backgrounds, illustrating the type of dangers the ATF rule aims to mitigate. This concerted legal effort, supported by a broad coalition of states from Arizona to Wisconsin, reflects a significant push toward national safety through more stringent gun control measures.

As the Supreme Court gears up to hear this pivotal case in its October 2024 term, the outcomes could set precedent-setting guidelines for the regulation of ghost guns across the United States.

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