What is a Ghost Gun?

A “ghost gun” is a term created by the media to refer to a firearm made by a private individual and not purchased via a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer (“FFL”). The common characteristic (or lack thereof) that brands a firearm with the title “ghost gun” is the absence of a serial number or other identifying marks that would make the firearm traceable.

Under federal law, a manufacturer’s license is not required to make a firearm solely for personal use. However, a license is required to manufacture firearms for sale or distribution. New Mexico does not impose any regulations on “ghost guns” above and beyond federal law relating to the manufacture of firearms for sale (rather than personal use). A growing trend has been the private manufacture of “ghost guns” by firearms enthusiasts using 80% receiver kits.

What is an 80% Receiver? Is it a Firearm?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) defines “firearm” to include a frame of the handgun or receiver of a rifle. 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3).

This is significant because a frame or receiver is the part of a firearm that bears the serial number. If the frame or receiver is not more than 80% machined so as to be readily assembled, the frame or receiver is not considered a firearm and can be sold to consumers without a serial number.

Once the consumer receives the frame or receiver, they can complete the required milling process with specific instructions and are neither required by New Mexico or federal law to equip the newly created firearm with a serial number, nor register the firearm in any database, so long as the firearm is manufactured for personal use.

Feel free to enjoy this American pastime of self-manufactured firearms in our great State of New Mexico. For more information about ghost guns, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to 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.