ATF Closes ‘Ghost Gun’ Loophole For Pistol Kits

In an open letter issued Tuesday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) said certain partially completed pistol frames and parts kits are subject to regulation under a rule that came into effect in August. In its August rule, the Justice Department regulated gun kits and defined terms like “complete weapon” and “readily.”

Tuesday’s letter stated that the “definition of ‘readily’ applies to each and every classification of a partially complete frame or receiver under this rule, whether sold alone or as part of a kit. 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 GCA [Gun Control Act] and its implementing regulations.”

To comply with the law, firearm frames must have serial numbers and be sold by a licensed dealer who runs background checks.

“Today’s open letter is another important step in implementing the crucial public safety rule regarding privately made firearms or Ghost Guns,” ATF Director Steven Dettelbach said in a news release. “Ghost Guns can kill like other firearms if they are in the wrong hands, so they are treated as firearms under the law.”

Democratic senators requested enforcement guidance for the August rule from the Justice Department and ATF in October. The lawmakers argued that companies selling almost complete frames and receivers without tools or instructions were outside the rule’s scope.

From the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2021, “there were approximately 45,240 suspected PMFs [privately made firearms] reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes, including 692 homicides or attempted homicides (not including suicides), and which ATF attempted to trace,” according to the August rule.

The August rule wasn’t the only gun law passed in 2022. As part of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, President Biden expanded background checks for people under 21. In addition, gun possession for those convicted of misdemeanor violent crimes against romantic partners was banned for at least five years. Further, red flag laws were implemented and funding for mental health treatment was increased.