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ATF closes 'ghost gun' loophole for pistol kits, incomplete firearms

A ghost gun is a privately made firearm that lacks a serial number and is, consequently, untraceable.

Published: December 28, 2022 4:07pm

Updated: December 28, 2022 5:32pm

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Tuesday informed federal firearms dealers that an August rule regulating gun kits would also apply to a number of incomplete pistol frames and related parts kits.

A ghost gun is a privately made firearm that lacks a serial number and is, consequently, untraceable. Such weapons often require direct assembly by the user out of several components.

In August of this year, the Department of Justice implemented a regulation on incomplete firearms, determining that if it "may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted" into a complete weapon, the component should be considered a "frame" or "firearm" and accordingly be subjected to federal regulation.

In an open letter to federal firearms licensees, the ATF informed gun store owners that a range of "partially complete" pistol frames fell under this rule, including partially complete frames from manufacturers Polymer80 and Lone Wolf.

"[P]artially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar striker-fired semiautomatic pistol frames, including, but not limited to, those sold within parts kits, have reached a stage of manufacture where they 'may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted' to a functional frame," the letter reads. "Therefore, even without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials, these partially complete pistol frames are 'frames' and also 'firearms' as defined in the [Gun Control Act] and its implementing regulations."

The letter further included diagrams of the specific parts kits and incomplete firearms, with visual explanations as to why the agency had determined they may be "readily" turned into working weapons.

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