A federal judge in North Texas has rejected a rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that would change the definition of a “firearm receiver” to include parts kits that are convertible to functional weapons.

The proposed rule to change firearm definitions comes from the Biden administration’s initiative seeking to “crack down on ghost guns,” which lack serial numbers that would make them traceable.

President Joe Biden directed the U.S. deputy attorney general to write a regulation that would “rein in” ghost guns after having trouble passing the proposed legislation in Congress. He then issued an executive order in 2022 making it illegal for a business to manufacture parts kits without serial numbers.

Under the order, parts kits would now be classified as firearms and would need serial numbers under the Gun Control Act of 1968. “Ghost guns” made from individual parts, kits, or 3-D printers would have to be serialized by federally licensed dealers.

According to the Heritage Foundation, “​​The new definition also could lead to absurd realities where homemade guns end up with multiple serial numbers stamped throughout different parts of the firearm.”

District Judge Reed O’Conner of the Northern District Court of Texas vacated the definition change, citing the act’s language that distinguishes firearm parts from “destructive devices,” which are defined as “‘any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas,’ such as a bomb, grenade, mine, or similar device.”

“Congress could have described a firearm as a set of parts that ‘may be readily assembled’ into a weapon, as it did for ‘destructive device.’ Congress could have written all those things, and the very definition of ‘firearm’ demonstrates that Congress knew the words that would accomplish those ends,” O’Connor wrote in his ruling.

Chris McNutt, the president of Texas Gun Rights, told Texas Scorecard, “The ATF is quickly becoming known for its overreach and incompetence, and they’ve had more of their ‘rules’ halted by the court than any other agency. We’re hopeful that our lawsuit against the ATF to overturn their pistol brace ban will find similar success in the northern district court.”

Valerie Muñoz

Valerie Muñoz is a native South Texan and student at Texas A&M University, where she studies journalism. She is passionate about delivering clear and comprehensive news to Texans.