The term ‘ghost gun’ is used to describe any homemade firearm produced by an individual, without a serial number or manufacturer markings. As long as the firearm is made for personal use and not for sale, this is perfectly legal at the federal level as long as you’re not a prohibited person.
‘Ghost gun’ is a term much like ‘assault rifle’ used by politicians to make perfectly legal firearms, owned by millions of law-abiding citizens seem scary and dangerous.
Being a prohibited person means you are not legally allowed to ship, transport, receive, or possess firearms or ammunition. This includes anyone:
- convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
- who is a fugitive from justice;
- who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 802);
- who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
- who is an illegal alien;
- who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- who has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
- who is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner; or
- who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
This will come into play later on.
IS A GHOST GUN FULLY AUTOMATIC?
The majority of these homemade firearms are owned by law-abiding citizens. The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 banned weapons that reload automatically and fire continuously with a single function of the trigger.
Both fully automatic as well as “burst fire” are considered machine gun features. The receiver of these weapons by itself is considered a regulated firearm as well as any non-machine gun that is “readily convertible” and are classified as a machine gun. Pre-ban weapons are “grandfathered” and therefore may be purchased legally as NFA firearms.
The only way to legally manufacture a machine gun is by obtaining the proper federal licensing. Therefore the firearms owned by law-abiding citizens who are not licensed, are not fully automatic and are not easily converted to be. The receiver an automatic variant is very different, and requires parts not legal for purchase without aforementioned licensing.
The penalty of owning an unlicensed machine gun is up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or both. This is more than enough to deter any law-abiding citizen from manufacturing a machine gun illegally.
IS A GHOST GUN DANGEROUS?
No modern-designed firearms are inherently dangerous. This includes the AR platforms that many of these ghost gun laws are aimed towards.
Even with all of the technological advances in the past century, we still don’t have any firearms that can unlock a safe, load themselves and go on a rampage through town. The only thing dangerous about a firearm is the intent of the person on the other end.
According to the Washington Post the ATF speculated that there were tens of thousands of these ‘ghost guns’ in California alone. Even with such large numbers, very few have been used to commit a crime. A murder-suicide, a shootout with the police, a mass shooting by a prohibited person, and a shooting spree by a man with a restraining order against him.
If there were only 10,000 of these rifles in the state, that makes a .0004% chance that one of these homemade firearms will be used in a violent crime.
Somehow the laws against murdering innocent people had no effect on these criminals. Yet many politicians believe banning aesthetic features on a rifle or the magazine capacity is supposed to suddenly change their minds. Preventing law-abiding people from continuing doing something we have done for hundreds of years isn’t going to save a single life because we never want to take one.
Robbing banks and murder have been against the law for a couple years now, and we still see these things happen every day. Pretending that criminals will follow laws is ignorance in it’s finest form.
Banning these previously legal firearms would have more effect on the 99.9996% of law-abiding gun owners far more than it would effect the criminals who still refuse to cooperate.
According to the FBI statistics, in 2018 there were over 1,500 deaths committed by knives or other cutting instruments. Over 400 deaths the same year due to blunt objects such as hammers or clubs. Even more surprising is over 650 people were killed with hands, feet, or other personal weapons.
The same year there were 297 deaths from rifles. This isn’t just the scary black AR style rifles, this is bolt actions, lever, and pump action rifles as well. This statistic includes self-defense and police use as well.
HOW ARE GHOST GUNS MADE?
The receiver is the only part legally considered a firearm. Most other components of a firearm are unregulated. There are several ways to build a lower receiver legally (again at the federal level only, check your local and state laws).
An AR style rifle made by a manufacturer for resale will have the serial number on the lower receiver. This is not necessary when making a firearm with intention of personal use.
A homemade firearm can be made several ways. Some are aluminum billets, while others are polymer.
Several companies offer receiver blanks that do not yet meet the definition of a firearm. The ATF has held that items such as receiver blanks, castings, or machined bodies must have a solid and un-machined fire-control cavity. These blanks have not yet reached the “stage of manufacture” that would result in being classified as a firearm as per the Gun Control Act of 1968.
80% is not a legal number and is not stated anywhere in law except when trying to ban previously legal receiver blanks. This again only has an effect on those of us that actually follow laws and has zero effect on criminals that by pure definition do not follow the law.
The remaining work needed to complete a receiver blank can be done in several ways. CNC machines, a drill press, or a router may be used to finish the blank. Some companies sell jigs with the required bits to finish the job. You may need to learn some new skills to use this equipment and actually produce a usable product.
Since the founding of our country it has been legal to make homemade firearms from raw material. With 3D printing options becoming more viable it’s possible to produce the receiver yourself using plastics or even metal.
A company called Defense Distributed makes a CNC machine dedicated to completing 80% lowers. They do this as a means of safeguarding the freedoms guaranteed by the second amendment.
Kits can be found for carbines, pistols, and AK variants as well.
Build parties are also a great option. People will get together with their receiver blanks and machine them into a functional receiver. This allows you to machine your blank without investing in costly tools.
Build parties are legal on a federal level as long as nobody is profiting from it and you machine your own parts. If you machine a part for a friend, even making a single pass on their lower violates this law. Everyone at the party must do their own work and the host of the party is not allowed to profit in any way, shape, or form.
WHY BAN GHOST GUNS?
Several states have started passing legislation banning “ghost guns”. With 3D printers becoming more common, the worry is that 3D printed firearms will be able to pass through metal detectors without setting them off. Places like New York require registration of any semi-automatic firearms with a detachable magazine that aren’t considered featureless. This makes a homemade rifle nearly impossible to accomplish legally in such states.
When used for illegal purposes, these weapons become very difficult to track down.
The issue with making new laws to cover this is that making an undetectable firearm has already been illegal for over 30 years. November 10th 1988 Ronald Reagan signed the Undetectable Firearms Act.
This act made it illegal to manufacture, import, or sell any firearm that is not detectable by a walk through metal detector or x-ray machine. It also made it illegal to manufacture any firearm with less than 3.7 oz of detectable steel.
This act was most recently renewed for another 10 years in 2013.
Banning the manufacture of homemade firearms quickly turns into a slippery slope. Lower receivers can be made from billets of aluminum, does that make a piece of aluminum into a potential firearm? Brass? Plastics that you buy for your 3D printer could even be considered a firearm if you reach far enough.
You can vote your freedom away in the name of safety, but you never really feel safer. And you never get that freedom back.
I understand anyone that doesn’t like guns and doesn’t want to own them personally. With the recent outbreak of the Covid-19, the government has told us our first line of defense is ourselves.
This is exactly what the 2A community has been saying for years. The police are minutes away when seconds count. In my area, I had to wait for a shift change when the 911 operator could hear the person trying to break into my home. Nearly 45 minutes later, (well after the situation was over) the local sheriff showed up just in time to take pictures.
WHY HOMEMADE FIREARMS ARE A GOOD THING
AR style rifles have been popular since they they were introduced by the ArmaLite Rifle Company in the 1950’s. They are very user-friendly and effective for hunting as well as defensive applications.
These are very modular firearms, and the serial number is applied lower receiver. This is where the trigger is held as well as the magazine.
A person in possession of a completed lower receiver is able to assemble the rest of the firearm with commonly available parts shipped straight to their house in most cases.
This allows law-abiding citizens to make a firearm for personal use without having to register the firearm and being on a list. This is huge for any advocate of the second amendment.
Firearms have been part of the American way of life since the founding of our great nation. We are a self-reliant people that are strong on our own and even stronger together. Our founding father’s were aware that this is our greatest strength and established the second amendment to guarantee that our country stayed free for future generations to flourish.
There are many countries that are considered “free”. Canada, France, England, and Australia are just a few. Out of any of these places, only America has the right to free speech as well as the right to life and liberty. Our founding fathers knew this was incredibly important to the longevity of our freedom.
They knew that a well armed militia was the only way to guarantee a free state, therefore the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. To protect this country we need access to the same weapons the military has access to. This used to be muskets and has advanced with technology. Saying that the second amendment is outdated is like saying the the freedom of speech only covers the printing press or spoken word.
This thought process assumes that the people that founded our country thought we would never advance. In reality they worded the bill of rights to cover any changes that may happen over the course of time.
This country was built on the strength of the individual people, taking away our right to protect ourselves can only turn out one way.
It seems nothing is more American than hating America, yet these people risk their lives to come here. People in China, Syria and Venezuela are murdered by their government in masses and have no way to keep their tyrannical government in check.
Let’s come together as a country and support each other. Let’s become the America that the people of Hong-Kong think we are.