As firearm sales continue to surge across the country, gun stores are left with depleted inventories. This has caused an increased interest in people wanting to build their own firearms. Homemade firearms are commonly referred to as “ghost guns” by the media and law enforcement. To help alleviate any fear surrounding these so called “ghost guns,” let’s discuss what they are and how the law regulates them.
What is a “Ghost Gun?”
The term “ghost gun” is commonly used by major media outlets and law enforcement to describe firearms made by individuals usually in their home. These homemade firearms lack serial numbers or other identifying markings that enable them to be traced back to their manufacturer, distributor, or original owner, thus giving rise to the term “ghost gun.”
Americans have always had the right to manufacture their own guns. But how exactly are firearms manufactured by an individual? Put simply: a variety of ways. The lower receiver houses vital components like the hammer and trigger. Pursuant to federal law, the lower receiver is classified as a firearm. Anyone can walk into a store and purchase a new barrel or handguard for their firearm without a background check. However, since a lower receiver is classified as a firearm, a background check is required if purchased from a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer (“FFL”).
One of the most popular ways for creating a ghost gun entails buying pre-made parts and assembling them into a firearm at home. There are many companies that sell what are known as “80 percent” lower receivers.
But what does that mean? It simply refers to a lower receiver that is 80 percent completed. Because these 80 percent lower receivers are not finished, the ATF does not classify them as a firearm, and they are treated like other basic firearm parts. An 80 percent lower receiver can easily be converted to a fully functioning lower receiver with a drill or milling machine.
Are There State or Federal Restrictions?
While the State of Tennessee has yet to enact legislation regarding the fabrication or possession of ghost guns, there are some restrictions under federal law.
Federal law prohibits an individual from manufacturing a ghost gun with the intent of selling it, unless that individual is a licensed manufacturer, and a serial number is issued for the manufactured firearm. Further, it is illegal under federal law to manufacture a firearm that is not detectable by walk-through metal detectors after the removal of grips, stocks, and magazines or which possess any major component which cannot accurately be depicted by airport x-ray machines.
As always, if you have any questions about ghost guns, please contact U.S. LawShield and ask to be connected 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.