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ATF Rule 2021R-05 – Ghost Guns

ATF Rule 2021R-05 and Ghost Guns

               ATF’s new rule targeting “ghost guns” as Privately Manufactured Firearms (PMFs) went into effect on August 24th, 2022. A ghost gun is a homemade firearm that does not have a serial number. The new rule refers to these as Privately Manufactured Firearms, and defines them as ““[a] firearm, including a frame or receiver, completed, assembled, or otherwise produced by a person other than a licensed manufacturer, and without a serial number placed by a licensed manufacturer at the time the firearm was produced.  .” You can read the full text of Rule 2021R-05 here.

               Many ghost guns are made by purchasing an unfinished receiver, commonly called an 80% receiver. These products were often purchased on the internet and could be shipped to any person who wishes to build a firearm. Once in possession of the 80% receiver, the person building the firearm would have to finish milling the receiver before it could actually function as a firearm. Prior to ATF’s new rule, a homemade firearm made with an 80% receiver would not need a serial number. Now that rule has taken effect, this is no longer the case. As will be explained further below, you will now have to go through a licensed firearms dealer to purchase an 80% receiver.

               ATF Rule 2021R-05 redefines what a firearm is. The definition now includes a “weapon parts kit that is designed to or may be readily completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” This is paired with ATF’s new definition of a “Firearm Frame or Receiver” to include a partially complete, dissembled, or nonfunctional frame or receiver that has reached the stage where it can be quickly and easily (“readily”) made to function as a frame or receiver.

Can You Still Build Your Own Firearm Under ATF Rule 2021R-05?

               ATF’s new rule does not change the definition of a Firearm Frame or Receiver to include 3D printed firearms. Further, Rule 2021R-05 does not prohibit you from building a firearm using an 80% receiver. The Rule just changes the process of building your firearm this way. Rather than having the receiver or kit shipped directly to you, the new Rule will require you to have it shipped to an FFL. You will then need to go through the same process that typically follows buying a gun, including a background check. Remember, this new receiver will have a serial number that allows the government to keep track of who bought it from the FFL.

Taking Your PMF to be Serviced Under ATF Rule 2021R-05

ATF Rule 2021R-05 changes a variety of other rules and definitions already in place. One of the most important changes for those who already own a PMF involves taking your PMF in for service to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). Under the new rule, if you take your PMF in for service to an FFL and leave it in their possession (requiring the FFL to log the PMF into their inventory), the FFL will now be required to put a serial number on it within 7 days of taking possession. This means that you may pick up your firearm with a serial number on it where there wasn’t one before.

For a further explanation click here for a video on ATF Rule 2021R-05.


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