Unregistered Firearm "Ghost Gun" Laws


1. It Is Legal To Build Your Own Firearm For Personal Use Without A Federal Firearms License (FFL)

"Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer's license under the Gun Control Act provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited (a felon for example) from receiving or possessing firearms. " - BATFE FAQs

"Per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a firearm as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution." - US DOJ Letter


2. It Is Legal To Purchase "80 Percent" Lowers Without A Federal Firearms License (FFL)

"Unlicensed individuals occasionally purchase castings or machined/molded or other manufactured bodies (sometimes referred to as "blanks," or "80% Receivers") that have not yet reached a stage of manufacture in which they are classified as "firearm frames or receivers" under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) and implementing regulations. Once purchased, these individuals may perform minor drilling and machining activities in or on the fire control area or other critical areas of the castings or machined/molded bodies sufficient to create a "firearm frame or receiver" under the law." - ATF Rule 2015-1

"If the following machining operations have not yet been performed, the "80 percent lower" is not sufficiently complete to be classified as the frame or receiver of a firearm and thus would not be a "firearm" as defined in the GCA.: Milling out of fire-control cavity, selector-lever hole drilled, cutting of trigger slot, drilling of trigger pin hole, and drilling of hammer pin hole." - 80 Percent Arms Determination Letter


3. Registration and Background Checks are Not Required

While it is illegal for a prohibited person to build their own firearm, there is no law that requires registration of a self-made firearm or the passing of a background check to build one. 18 U.S.C., Chapter 44; 922 (d).


4. It Is Illegal To Build A Firearm With The Intent To Sell Without a Federal Firearms License (FFL)

"A Federal Firearms License is not required to make a firearm solely for personal use. However, a license is required to manufacture firearms for sale or distribution." - 18 U.S.C. 922 and 18 U.S.C. 923


5. It Is Illegal To Sell An Unmarked and Unregistered Firearm

It is illegal to sell or transfer a self-made firearm without a Federal Firearms License (FFL). In order to sell or transfer a self-made firearm, it must be properly identified (with a serial number) and registered with the ATF. - ATF Firearms Verification Overview


6. All Firearms Must Comply With All Federal And Local Laws

"In addition to federal gun laws imposed by the National Firearms Act (1934), Gun Control Act (1968), Firearms Owner`s Protection Act (1986), Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), the 1994 Omnibus Crime Control Act and other laws, most states and some local jurisdictions have imposed their own firearms restrictions." - NRA Citizen's Guide To Federal Firearms Laws

See also: ATF Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide / NRA-ILA Gun Laws By State


7. Self-Made Firearms Must Be Completed By The Owner With Their Own Equipment

The processes required to be performed to complete this 80% lower receiver to a 100% complete lower receiver must be performed by the individual who will be the physical owner of the firearm. Once these processes are performed any transfer of ownership is subject to all applicable federal, state and local regulations.

"Any person (including any corporation or other legal entity) engaged in the business of performing machining, molding, casting, forging, printing (additive manufacturing) or other manufacturing process to create a firearm frame or receiver, or to make a frame or receiver suitable for use as part of a "firearm," must be licensed as a manufacturer under the GCA; identify (mark) any such firearm; and maintain required manufacturer's records." - ATF Rule 2015-1 and Ruling 2010-10 Clarified by US DOJ


8. Serial Numbers Are Not Required on Firearms Built For Personal Use Under Federal Law

"Although markings are not required on firearms manufactured for personal use (excluding NFA firearms), owners are recommended to conspicuously place or engrave a serial number and/ or other marks of identification to aid in investigation or recovery by State or local law enforcement officials in the event of a theft or loss of the privately owned firearm." BATFE (Via GH&G)

Check Your Local Laws: California

Note: Once a firearms as been engraved with a serial number, it is then illegal to later remove or alter that serial number.


9. NFA Firearms Require a Tax Stamp and NFA Approval

"Making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and advance approval by ATF." - BATFE FAQs
NFA firearms include short barreled shotguns, short barreled rifles, machine guns, suppressors, and destructive devices.


10. Rifles and Shotguns Must Have Less Than 10 Imported Parts

"A person is prohibited from assembling a non-sporting* semiautomatic rifle or shotgun from 10 or more imported parts, as set forth in regulations in 27 CFR 478.39." - BATFE FAQs

*The BATFE has determined that the following features are indicative of non-sporting rifles and shotguns: Detachable magazines, folding or telescoping stocks, pistol grips, flash suppressors, bipods, and night sights. - Importability of Certain Semiautomatic Rifles


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Legal Challenges


"In 2013, a federal House Bill intended to ban unfinished receivers used to create assault weapons failed in its entirety. (H.R. 2910.) Currently, there are no state laws banning the creation of "ghost guns" and state legislation designed to increase regulations on these kinds of firearms has been unsuccessful." - NOLO - Criminal Defense Lawyer

Undetectable Firearms Act


Non metal lower receivers, made of polymer or resin are completely legal to manufacture as long as they contain metal components (triger, mag release, safety selector, take-down pin, springs, etc.).

"It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture.. a firearm that, after removal of grips, stocks, and magazines, is not as detectable.. by walk-through metal detectors calibrated and operated to detect the Security Exemplar (sample)." - Undetectable Firearms Act.

Know Your Rights


United States Constitution, Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

United States Constitution, Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

United States Constitution, Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Help Protect Your Rights


Join the National Rifle Association

Donate to the Second Amendment Foundation

Donate to the Firearms Policy Foundation

Donate to the Calguns Foundation

Donate to the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees

Join the Defense Distributed LEGIO

Ghost Gun News


July 10, 2018 - The Department of Justice settled a case against Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed, stating that 3D printing tutorials, including 3D printed guns are approved for public release in any form. The State Department forced Mr. Wilson to take down the instructions in 2015 claiming that they violated export laws. Files can now officially be downloaded legally at DefCad.com

July 31, 2018 - A temporary restraining order has been filed against Defense Distributed by a federal judge in Washington state. The files can now be found and downloaded at CodeIsFreeSpeech.com


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