Police will treat ‘ghost guns’ the same as fully assembled firearms, AG says

Tony Romeo
December 16, 2019 - 3:02 pm
“Ghost gun” parts

Tony Romeo/KYW Newsradio

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has issued a legal opinion stating that law enforcement can now treat “ghost guns” the same as those that are purchased fully assembled.

Shapiro said his legal interpretation does not make ghost guns illegal for all, nor does it infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. Rather, Shapiro said he is closing a loophole and making them illegal only for those not allowed to possess guns under Pennsylvania law. 

A ghost gun is a weapon built by people who acquire a frame — referred to as an 80-percent receiver — and then add the missing parts, creating a weapon that is often unregistered and lacking a serial number.

“If you are allowed to own a firearm, it is still perfectly legal to buy an 80-percent receiver and turn it into a fully functioning gun,” Shapiro explained.

Shapiro, who called ghost guns an “emerging threat,” wants to crack down on felons and others who are not allowed to possess guns, yet still obtain ghost gun kits at gun shows without any background checks.

In Philadelphia this year, he said more than 100 ghost guns have been recovered from prohibited purchasers.

“Felons are able to buy these kits by visiting the state’s largest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, in Montgomery County, and literally filling duffel bags full of 80-percent receivers,” he added.

Shapiro said Pennsylvania State Police will be issuing guidance to gun shop owners and gun show vendors on how to handle those purchases.