Let’s address a debate that has been raging over the years, intensifying recently in the media: “Ghost Guns.”
What Makes a Firearm a “Ghost Gun?”
A “ghost gun” is a name for a privately constructed firearm that lacks a serial number and other identifying marks. It has always been legal for Americans to make their own firearms if they are for non-commercial purposes. Firearms created for sale or distribution require a federal license for their manufacture and a unique serial number.
Traditional firearms are manufactured by licensed companies and sold by licensed gun dealers. A ghost gun is manufactured from parts in the home of an individual without special licensing. Kits are available with 80% receivers that are not yet considered firearms. The final steps of manufacture can be completed by the individual.
Firearms you construct yourself allow for greater individualization and customization. Receiver blanks that did not meet the definition of a firearm are not subject to regulation under the gun control act. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) has long held that items such as receiver blanks, castings, or machined bodies in which the fire-control cavity area is completely solid and unmachined have not reached the stage of manufacture which would result in the classification of a firearm according to The Gun Control Act of 1968.
The steps to machine a solid fire-control cavity can be completed at home without commercial assistance. Federal law allows for the creation of ghost guns as long as no other legal impediments exist. Missouri does not prohibit ghost guns under state law. It is legal to create ghost guns in Missouri when you comply with federal law. There is nothing uniquely dangerous about so-called “ghost guns.” They simply lack a serial number for tracing purposes. A citizen can construct their own firearm in Missouri (which is otherwise legal) for their own use, without a requirement that a serial number be imprinted on the firearm.
The Debate Around Ghost Guns
Some groups believe that the government’s inability to track so-called ghost guns to the first retail purchaser to determine its history hinder gun crime investigations, and therefore, public safety. Others believe that the ability to manufacture one’s own guns is a critical Second Amendment right protected under the constitution.
For any questions regarding ghost guns in the State of Missouri and what modifications are legal or illegal, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.