Federal judge refuses to block Colorado’s ban on ‘ghost guns’

Ghost Gun Settlement
Carolyn Kaster/AP, File
FILE – A 9mm “ghost gun” pistol build kit with a commercial slide and barrel with a polymer frame is displayed in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 11, 2022.

Colorado can continue to ban the sale of make-it-yourself gun kits that don’t include serial numbers on their components after a federal judge declined to issue a temporary injunction.

The law “does not prevent an individual from buying an unfinished frame or receiver or firearms part kit and in no way infringes upon Plaintiffs’ right to acquire arms,” Judge Gordan Gallagher wrote in his ruling. “Rather, the Statute requires the purchaser to have the frame or receiver serialized by (a federally licensed firearms dealer) and to undergo a background check.”

Those requirements, the judge concluded, don’t infringe on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

The law also bans 3-D-printed firearms without serial numbers. Judge Gallagher found that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge that part of the law because none of them had any concrete plans to make 3-D printed guns.

Two Second Amendment groups, the National Association for Gun Rights and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, filed suit against the ghost guns ban shortly after it took effect on New Years Day.

They accused the law of violating the U.S. Supreme Court’s new requirement that restrictions on gun ownership have a historical precedent going back to the founding of the country. The suit argued that home manufacturing of weapons was common during colonial times and afterward, and so can not be infringed upon.

“The fact that this tradition arose early on these shores was especially fortunate during the Revolutionary War because when the British attempted to prevent the Americans from acquiring firearms and ammunition, the Americans were able to make their own,” the lawsuit asserted.

However, Gallagher, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Joe Biden in 2022,  viewed the issue differently. Colorado’s law, he wrote, merely “imposes a condition on the commercial sale of a firearm,” something the Supreme Court has held that states are allowed to do.

Supporters of the ghost gun ban say unserialized firearms are being increasingly used to commit crimes because they’re harder for law enforcement to trace.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports the number of suspected homemade guns recovered at crime scenes nationwide increased by more than a thousand percent between 2017 and 2021. The ATF issued its own rule in 2022 banning gun parts kits without serial numbers. That policy is also being challenged in court.