A federal judge has issued an injunction barring Delaware from enforcing provisions of a new law outlawing the manufacture and possession of homemade “ghost guns,” which can’t be traced by law enforcement officials because they don’t have serial numbers, reports The Associated Press.
Friday’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by gun
rights advocates after Democratic Gov. John Carney signed a law last October
criminalizing the possession, manufacture and distribution of such weapons as
well as unfinished firearm components.
Judge Maryellen Noreika denied a motion by
Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Jennings, the sole defendant, to
dismiss the lawsuit. She instead granted a preliminary injunction in favor of
the plaintiffs to prohibit enforcement of certain provisions pending resolution
of the lawsuit.
The judge wrote that without an injunction, the
plaintiffs would “face irreparable harm ... because they are threatened by
criminal penalties should they engage in conduct protected by the Second
While declining to issue a permanent injunction,
Noreika said that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their arguments that
a ban on possessing homemade guns violates the Second Amendment, and that the
prohibition on manufacturing untraceable firearms is also likely
Noreika said Jennings had offered no evidence to
support her assertion that the prohibitions don’t burden protected conduct
because untraceable firearms are “not in common use and typically possessed by
law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”
Jennings similarly failed to substantiate her
argument that the prohibitions on possession and manufacturing are “consistent
with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
At the same time, however, Noreika said restrictions
on the distribution of unfinished firearm frames or components do not unduly
burden a person’s Second Amendment rights. She noted that such components are
still available if they include serial numbers and manufacturer information and
are obtained from federally licensed gun dealers.
The judge also held that a provision restricting the
distribution of instructions for using a three-dimensional printer to produce a
firearm or component is not an unjustifiable regulation of speech under the
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