Looking Past the Media Hype

When you hear the term “ghost gun,” it sounds scary, but don’t be afraid; it’s not that horrible. The term “ghost gun” was created to cause fear and push a certain agenda by the mainstream media and anti-gun crowd.

What is a Ghost Gun?

A ghost gun is nothing more than a firearm made by an individual without a serial number or any identifying marks. Usually, ghost guns are made by individuals in their homes using a 3D printer or by purchasing an unfinished receiver. Certain ghost guns are also undetectable by metal scanning devices, although this is an illegal practice, as they must legally incorporate a metal component to be detectable by metal detectors.

The major concern some have with ghost guns is that anyone can make one without having to undergo a background check. Further, if they are used in a crime, they cannot be traced.

Manufacturing a Ghost Gun

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), which monitors weapons in the United States, does not consider ghost guns to be illegal as long as the firearm would not be classified as an NFA item, which requires a tax stamp. Even NFA items may be manufactured by individuals, but they must first get a tax stamp prior to beginning the manufacturing process, including purchasing any of the parts.

Although you can manufacture and possess a ghost gun in Illinois, you must be careful if you are planning on transferring a ghost gun and be sure you follow the law under 430 ILCS 65/3(b), which states that if the gun does not possess a serial number, you must give a description or other information identifying the firearm.

Attempts to Ban Ghost Guns

Additionally, you must closely monitor your individual state laws. Currently in Illinois, ghost guns have not been found to violate the law. However, there has been an attempt by the state legislature to declare some ghost guns illegal.

The bill HB 0892, which is still sitting unsigned and has not yet been voted on, states as follows:

“Amends the Criminal Code of 2012. Provides that a person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses, or carries a firearm with: (1) a major component of which, if subjected to inspection by common metal detection devices, would not be detectable; or (2) a major component of which, if subjected to inspection by common imaging detection devices, would not generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the component. Provides that this offense is a Class 2 felony. Creates exemptions. Effective immediately.”

Americans have always had the right to build their own firearms. Nothing in the proposed law would stop Illinoisans from manufacturing a firearm without a serial number, but all the major components would have to accurately appear when scanned by imaging devices and metal detectors.

This attempt by Illinois to outlaw undetectable ghost guns appears to be focused on 3D-printed guns and gun parts, and is more restrictive than federal law. Under federal law, to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, 18 U.S.C. § 922(p), a 3D-printed gun must have a metal plate inserted into the body so it can be detected by a metal detector, otherwise it would be illegal.

Please keep yourself educated on any changes in these attempts by the government to regulate these otherwise totally legal guns. If you are concerned that what you possess or are building is illegal, call 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.