Hello everyone. This month we want to talk about a topic that gets some interest in the media: the topic of “ghost guns.”

What is a Ghost Gun?

Ghost guns are guns made by an individual from independently obtained parts, but they do not have serial numbers and can’t be traced. Companies sell parts that you can use to build a gun with varying levels of complexity.

It is not illegal to build your own firearm in North Carolina. You may build a gun only if you intend it for personal use.

Building for Personal Use vs. To Sell

Under federal law, it is illegal to build a gun for the purpose of selling it without proper licensing. The ATF would consider you a manufacturer of firearms and you must have a license to be a manufacturer. It is legal, however, to build a gun for your personal use.

If you do sell one of these guns, you should be able to clearly establish your intent at the time you made the gun was for personal use rather than for sale. Of course in North Carolina, any time you sell or give away a pistol, including a ghost gun, the recipient must obtain a permit from the local sheriff or be in possession of a valid North Carolina concealed handgun permit.

Under federal law, you can legally build any gun for yourself that you could legally purchase.

Serial Numbers and Permits for Ghost Guns

Some states require you to obtain a serial number for a homemade gun. North Carolina, however, does not require you to register a gun you built or obtain a serial number for such a gun.

There are no current decisions on whether you need to obtain a permit when you purchase parts to assemble a pistol in North Carolina. If you already have a North Carolina concealed handgun permit, then it does not matter. If you do not have a concealed handgun permit and purchase parts to assemble a pistol, the safest course is to obtain a permit from your local sheriff.

The Concern with Ghost Guns

The name “ghost gun” comes from the fact that the parts and the completed gun will often have no identification and require no background check to purchase the parts you use to build the gun. Some law enforcement officers and politicians have expressed concern because of the lack of background checks and the fact that these guns are often untraceable.

In January 2020, several North Carolina mayors joined with mayors across the country to meet in Washington, D.C. to discuss potential legislation regarding ghost guns with their Congressman. To date, no new laws have been passed. Further, it is unlikely that there will be any laws concerning ghost guns passed in North Carolina in the near future.

To sum up: ghost guns are guns you build yourself from parts. They are legal in North Carolina and the United States as long as you build a gun that you could legally possess.

For any additional questions regarding 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.