The following is a video transcript.
Hello, U.S. LawShield members. It’s Wilkes Ellsworth, your Independent Program Attorney for Ohio, with another discussion topic I think will resonate with a lot of you who are interested in making changes to your firearms. I get quite a few questions from members on this topic. Let’s look at the three most prevalent issues and questions relating to gun modification.
Are gun modifications legal in Ohio?
Generally, the answer is “yes,” because what we are usually talking about are simple modifications based on personal preference. You are free to change the stock, barrel, sights, trigger, coating, or color to your heart’s content as long as you are not dramatically changing the firearm itself. Let’s all use common sense. You certainly cannot modify the weapon and deviate significantly from its intended purpose and original manufacturer’s intentions.
For example: it is unlawful to remove those parts from a semi-automatic and transform it into a fully automatic weapon; nor may you add parts to do the same thing. In Ohio, you would set yourself up to be prosecuted for possession of a dangerous ordnance (a very serious felony), which could result in significant penalties, including prison time and fines, not to mention the loss of your gun rights. Also, please note: the bump stock ban went into effect on March 26th, 2019. All owners of these items, which the government brings under the definition of a machinegun, must divest themselves of them or face prosecution.
Can my gun modification be used against me in a prosecution for a self-defense shooting?
Absolutely, it can, and I have seen it happen. Please be mindful, especially in this day and age, how the changes you make could be viewed. When you put the “Punisher” logo on the stock of your weapon, what message are you conveying? You might just think it looks cool, but a jury member who is already maybe a little wary of guns to begin with might see it as a threat to the general public and hold it against you. Just consider the big picture when considering any modification to your weapons—especially your self-defense weapon.
Are there any limitations to how many modifications I can make?
Yes and no. If you are starting to do this for friends and referrals are coming in, you might need to take a step back. Ask yourself, “Is this just a hobby or is it becoming a business? Do I need an FFL for what I am doing?”
And to finish up, do not under any circumstances attach a suppressor to your handguns. This is not a legal modification. These are special items that can be used in very strict circumstances (like hunting, for example), and the rules for obtaining one are tightly regulated.
I hope this helped answer some of your questions. As always, if you have any questions about this or any other topic, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to me, your Independent Program Attorney. I am always happy to speak with you.