SAN ANTONIO – You can build a gun in your own home without a serial number, and it’s all legal. These untraceable firearms are known as ghost guns.
“Ghost guns kind of a get a bad name because they don’t go through the normal channels,” said Josh Felker, president of Lone Star Handgun.
There are mixed opinions when it comes to ghost guns. Gun control advocates say they allow people who aren’t allowed to buy a gun to get one anyway. They also say ghost guns are increasingly being used in crimes.
Felker said criminals will find a way to get a gun no matter the obstacle.
“Criminals are going to use whatever guns. And if they don't want a serial number, they'll grind the serial number off,” Felker said.
You can use high-tech machines or buy a kit online to assemble gun parts and make a firearm.
“They are not required to have a serial number, not required to go through a gun dealer,” Felker said.
Some ghost guns are made with 3D printers. In 2013, a Texas company posted design files for 3D printed guns online. Last year, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to keep the company from posting more files.
The Giffords Law Center said only a frame, or receiver, a key component that houses the firing mechanism of a firearm, must have a serial number under federal law. People have found a way around that by marketing the frames or receivers, as unfinished. They are called 80% receivers, and they don’t require a background check.
“An 80% lower would be an AR lower that’s not milled out completely yet, where you, as the individual, you have to do some cutting, drilling and stuff. It’s only 80% complete, which is lawful, legal by (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), as well as Texas law. Then you put it with an upper, and that means at the end of the day, it doesn’t have a serial number on it,” Felker said.
Building your own gun is legal, but it’s against the law if you’re selling it without a serial number.
To learn about what laws other states have passed regarding ghost guns, click here.