A federal judge for the District of Nevada ruled this week against a gun-rights group that had filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on so-called “ghost guns.”
The Firearms Policy Coalition sued the state in June of this year following the passage of Assembly Bill 286, which bans the purchase, possession, manufacture, or reception of an “unfinished frame or receiver.” The FPC argued that the law violates both the Second Amendment and the Constitution’s Takings Clause because it amounts to a “confiscatory ban.”
Obama-appointee District Judge Mirando Du rejected both elements of the FPC suit. She argued that because Nevada residents can purchase serialized firearms, and they have the opportunity to sell their now-banned receivers, the bill does not violate either the Second or Fifth Amendments.
“Because AB 286 targets only unserialized firearms that are not within a categorical exception, that bypass background checks by virtue of self-assembly, and that are untraceable without a serial number, the Court finds that AB 286 is a reasonable fit for achieving the government’s objectives of decreasing the threat that unserialized firearms pose to public safety and preserving law enforcement’s ability to trace firearms related to violent crimes,” Mirando said.
“While the Court is sympathetic to the economic loss Plaintiffs assert,” she continued, “it is not clear based on the record the extent or certainty of that economic loss,” the order states. “Because AB 286 provides an approximate 10-month period for persons to sell unserialized firearms and constituent parts to firearms importers, manufacturers, or licensed dealers beginning June 7, 2021, the possibility of recouping a potential economic loss was — and remains as of the date of this order — possible.”
In a statement, FPC called the decision “misguided” and said they may decide to appeal. “Today’s order is wrong as a matter of law and reduces the fundamental human right to keep and bear arms to a mere privilege,” the organization said. “FPC’s appellate counsel are reviewing this horribly flawed order and are authorized [to] take any and all appropriate actions to protect the Second Amendment rights of Nevada residents.”
Nevada, like other states that have gone after “ghost guns,” wrote the law to target products like those sold by Polymer80. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has held for years that these “80-percent” receivers do not constitute firearms because they have not reached a stage of manufacture necessary to be used in a firearm.
In the last few years, however, the ATF has reversed course. As the behest of President Joe Biden, they are currently considering a rule in line with Nevada’s law: any product that can be “readily” converted into a receiver would count as a “firearm.” We’ve called on our readers to leave comments on this new rule, which you can read more about here.
The Nevada “ghost gun” ban passed on strict party-line votes in both the Senate and the Assembly.