Ghost Guns

All the components of my AR15 including my homemade lower receiver the gleaming aluminum piece.Last week, President Biden announced several new executive actions on firearms, including: calling for an updated report on firearms trafficking; nominating a new director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and ordering the Department of Justice to draft new regulations that will treat handguns equipped with pistol braces as short-barreled rifles under the National Firearms Act, along with publishing a model “red flag” law for states to use as a guide. Jeff Welty and Shea Denning have previously written about red flag laws here and here.

One order in particular seems to be getting a lot of attention: instructing the DOJ to issue a proposed rule within 30 days to address “ghost guns.” I’ve gotten a few questions recently from law enforcement officers and prosecutors about ghost guns and the applicable law, so this post provides a summary of three topics: (i) what are ghost guns; (ii) why are they coming up as an issue now; and (iii) what do our existing state and federal laws say about them?

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