On August 26, 2020, the cities of Syracuse, San Jose, Chicago, and Columbia (SC), and the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, sued the ATF in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to require it to change the definition of a firearm to apply to “ghost guns.”
A firearm is defined by the Gun Control Act (“GCA”) to include the “frame or receiver” of any weapon that “will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.”  18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3).  Regulations adopted by the ATF define a firearm frame or receiver as the “part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.”  27 C.F.R. § 48.11.
The complaint alleges that the ATF improperly classifies frames or receivers that have been mostly, but not completely machined into their final form (commonly referred to as being only 80% finished) as not being firearms.  Because they are not considered to be firearms, they are not required to have a serial number, and can be sold without any of the restrictions applicable to firearms.  This makes firearms assembled using them untraceable, which is why they are referred to as “ghost guns.”
Plaintiffs argue that any part that is designed to be made into, or is readily convertible to, a functional frame or receiver of a firearm should be treated as a firearm for purposes of the GCA and seek a court order requiring the ATF to adopt their interpretation.
Renzulli Law Firm will continue to monitor the status of this case.  If you have any questions concerning firearms matters, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.