The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Biden Administration’s controversial new rule on "ghost guns" to take effect, blocking a lower court ruling. 

The 5-4 order saw Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, usually counted among the court's conservative jurists, siding with the three more left-leaning justices to back the ATF’s final "frame or receiver" rule.

The ATF's controversial rulemaking, which struggled to treat some unfinished frames and receivers the same as if they are complete and functional firearms, took effect last August and has since been challenged by at least two federal lawsuits. One of these, the Firearms Policy Coalition-backed VanDerStok v. Garland, last month resulted in a judge issuing a nationwide order blocking the rule. 

The Biden Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay against the lower court order – a move backed by all the major anti-gun groups. On Tuesday, the high court agreed with the government, lifting the lower court's order pending its appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit, which is set for next month. 

 "Americans across the country will be safer thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision today to keep ATF’s life-saving ghost guns rule in effect while the appeals process plays out,” said John Feinblatt, Everytown's President, celebrating the order. Notably, during Justice Barrett's Senate confirmation hearings in 2019, Fienblatt slammed the jurist at the time as "a gun rights extremist who has no place on the Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, the FPC pointed out the case will now continue at the Fifth Circuit where oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 7, and could very well end up back at the Supreme Court in the near future, as the country's highest court did not address the merits of the case.  



"We’re deeply disappointed that the Court pressed pause on our defeat of ATF’s rule effectively redefining ‘firearm’ and ‘frame or receiver’ under federal law,” Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC’s counsel in this case, emailed in a statement to "Regardless of today’s decision, we’re still confident that we will yet again defeat ATF and its unlawful rule at the Fifth Circuit when that Court has the opportunity to review the full merits of our case."

While the legal challenges continue, Democrats in Congress are making moves to try and regulate unfinished frames and receivers under federal law. Some 26 lawmakers on Capitol Hill recently introduced bicameral legislation, the "Ghost Guns and Untraceable Firearms Act," which would place "80 percent" frames and receivers under the same federal regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms. This includes a requirement that sellers have a manufacturer’s license, put a serial number on the unfinished frame or receiver, and that purchasers undergo a federal background check prior to transfer. 

The legislation, unsurprisingly, has the backing of Everytown, Brady, and Giffords.

Banner image: Polymer 80 80-percent frame. (Photo: Chris Eger/

revolver barrel loading graphic