States seek to ban 'ghost guns' amid debate of what they are or aren't

Several states have already outlawed so-called ghost guns—homemade firearms—and two more in the Mid-Atlantic are trying to follow suit. Delaware could ban them completely. And Pennsylvania is still trying to decide if partially made gun frames count as firearms.

Ken Jones, an Air Force veteran who lives in Delaware, enjoys building guns at home since retiring from the military and opposes the effort to stop his hobby.

"Avionics, electronic warfare specifically. I just enjoy doing stuff with my hands," Jones said.

He explained that making guns at home starts with an 80% receiver. He said a ban on these receivers would be a blow to hobbyists like himself.

"I think there needs to be room for people to have this hobby still in America," Jones said.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Washington already have bans on ghost guns, according to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Delaware is the latest state to try to outlaw them.

"There's no serial numbers on these, they can be purchased on the internet," Christian Soltysiak of CeaseFire PA said. "They are sold as kits at gun shows."

CeaseFire PA is an anti-gun violence group with locations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Soltysiak, the executive director, said she thinks homemade guns are just as dangerous as fully assembled firearms.

"What we do know is that in 2019, there were 100 ghost guns confiscated off the streets of Philadelphia," Soltysiak said.

Pennsylvania's governor is now calling for a ban on them, too.

A few weeks ago, a judge put a hold on a state policy requiring gun dealers to run background checks on sales of ghost guns.


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"The problem was there's no definition for what constitutes a partially manufactured frame or receiver," said Joshua Prince, an attorney for the gun manufacturing businesses in the case. He said ghost guns have no definition in the law.

"I believe it's been conjured up by certain groups with an intent to illicit fear in certain people," Prince said. "You have this term 'ghost gun'—it makes it sound all scary."

Ultimately, the Pennsylvania judge decided the policy was "too vague."

Meanwhile, in Delaware, the bill banning these guns continues to move through the court system.

"There's just people like me. And I know there are people that don't get it, won't get it. And that's OK, too," Jones said. "But I am not going to tell them that they have to."

Delaware lawmakers plan to vote on outlawing ghost guns in March.