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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Take Action on “Ghost Guns”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently released a legal opinion that classified unfinished gun frames as firearms under state law, which closes a significant loophole that has existed for years in gun laws.

Before Shapiro issued this clarification, felons who could otherwise not purchase firearms at gun shows could still purchase partial frames at these shows and online, allowing them the opportunity to build weapons of their own.

Ending the “ghost gun” loophole

Shapiro released this interpretation of the Uniform Firearms Act at the request of Pennsylvania state police, who needed additional guidance on how they should enforce “ghost guns,” the term for these self-assembled guns made with partial frames. In most cases, these involve frames that are about 80 percent completed, hence the term “80% receivers.”

It should be noted that this is not a “new” interpretation of the law, simply a clarification for the purposes of enforcement. It does not result in any new bans, or create any restrictions on the gun rights of law-abiding firearms owners. It simply makes clear that people who are not allowed to purchase firearms are also not allowed to purchase 80 percent receivers in the state to make “ghost guns” of their own. People who are caught with an illegal 80 percent receiver or “ghost gun” can be arrested for illegal possession of a firearm.

This interpretation comes after law enforcement officials in the state noted a “disturbing proliferation” of the weapons, with more than 100 having been found in Philadelphia alone over the last year. In all of those cases, they were possessed by people who were not allowed to have a gun.

For more information about this interpretation and how it could affect gun crime cases, contact experienced Reading, PA criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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