What the President’s Ghost Gun Order Means for Californians
“Ghost guns” have been an intensely debated subject over the past few years, as technological advances have allowed individuals to manufacture and distribute unregistered firearms. These ghost guns can be assembled with 3-D printers – which are now more affordable than ever – and lack serial numbers, making them untraceable. But a possible executive ban by President Joe Biden may drastically change how these ghost guns are handled in California.
Are Ghost Guns Legal?
Private individuals are legally allowed under federal law to manufacture and use their own firearms without having to inscribe or record a serial number, but they are not allowed to distribute or sell these firearms to other individuals. Ghost guns fall into a gray area. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) requires firearms to reach a certain stage of manufacture before they require serial numbers.
To get around this requirement, some online manufacturers sell “80% guns” or “unfinished guns” that are effectively incomplete. These firearms may require specific parts or assembly to be considered commercial firearms, which means manufacturers can sell the incomplete models or ghost-gun kits to private individuals who then may legally manufacture them – without serial numbers. Once the weapon is complete, federal law does not require the owner to register the firearm, but state law may.
Currently, ghost guns are legal in California, but Assembly Bill 1057 would legally define these weapons under state red-flag gun laws that allow courts to temporarily restrict gun access to dangerous individuals. While this would not fully ban ghost guns, it would limit the availability of these devices.
How Can Gun Reform Impact Ghost Guns?
First, it is important to state that a executive ban on ghost guns has not gone into effect yet. Currently, President Biden has only called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to begin drafting rules regarding ghost guns that could lead to regulations and a potential ban. However, federal law still applies, and ghost guns remain legal in states that do not have ghost-gun legislation.
In terms of what types of regulations gun owners might see in the future, the White House has outlined its plans regarding new firearm legislation, which include:
- Requiring annual reports of firearm trafficking from the DOJ.
- Directing federal support to community violence intervention programs.
- Creating a model for state red-flag laws, which would include temporarily barring dangerous or at-risk individuals from owning ghost guns or other firearms.
- Placing pistols with stabilizing braces under the National Firearms Act.
Whatever the outcome of this new gun reform, it is important for defendants in gun-crime cases to have strong legal representation. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our Los Angeles criminal defense firm has decades of experience in complex state and federal gun cases. Partner Kelly Quinn also has extensive experience with firearm law and is prepared to defend your case in state or federal court. If you or someone you love has been charged with a firearms-related crime, contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460. We offer strength in numbers with our skilled legal defense team.