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If you have been on social media or following the news lately, you’ve probably heard the term “ghost guns.” Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced a new rule regulating this type of firearm. But what exactly are ghost guns and are they illegal in Texas?
In this blog post, we are going to explain ghost guns, how they are made, and discuss their legality in the Lone Star State. We will also explore the new federal law and the potential consequences of building a ghost gun in Texas.
Ghost guns are homemade firearms that do not have a serial number. Because they do not have a serial number, they are untraceable – which makes them almost impossible to track back to crimes. Hence, the term “ghost guns.” They are also sometimes referred to as “80 percent lower receivers.”
Ghost guns are made from unfinished kits that can be purchased online or at a gun store and assembled in about half an hour. Licensed gun manufacturers are required by federal law to engrave or cast a serial number on firearms. However, because ghost guns are made by an individual with a kit – not a federally licensed manufacturer – they are considered “unfinished products” and do not require a serial number. The new law changes this.
In April 2022, President Biden announced a new rule that modernized the definition of a “firearm.” The rule specified that key components in gun kits now qualify as “firearms” and, therefore, must be sold by licensed firearms dealers and include serial numbers on the gun kit’s frame or receiver, which is the primary piece of the firearm that all parts are attached to. The regulation will also require background checks for anyone purchasing a gun kit. The new rule also requires any federally licensed dealer or gunsmith that comes into contact with a ghost gun to serialize it and keep permanent purchasing records.
The new rules are designed to make it more difficult for people to purchase ghost guns and make them illegal without a background check.
The new law took effect in August 2022, but pro-gun activists, advocates, and organizations, such as Gun Owners of America, have vowed to challenge the rule in court.
The short answer is no. Under state law, it is not illegal to purchase a gun kit and make your own firearm for personal use in Texas as long as you are not a prohibited person and you comply with all other state and federal laws, including passing a background check. Although some states have laws restricting building your own firearm, Texas is not one of them.
On August 24, 2022 ATF’s new rule, “Definition of ‘Frame or Receiver’ and Identification of Firearms,” went into effect. It creates an obligation for FFLs to record and mark any privately made firearms (PMF) that pass through their inventory.
It does not create an obligation for private, unlicensed persons to mark or otherwise comply with new requirements regarding firearms they make at home for personal use.
In Texas, it is illegal to sell a ghost gun without a license from the ATF. FFLs need to comply with the requirements outlined above.
If you have been charged with a gun crime in North Texas, contact the law office of Varghese Summersett for a complimentary consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney. We will fight to protect your rights, freedom, and future.