Historically, New York has always had some of the most stringent gun laws in the United States. More recently, legislators have had to tackle the pressing issue of ghost guns. Because they are untraceable, many say this type of weapon poses an increased risk to public safety.
What Are Ghost Guns?
The term ghost gun is used to describe a privately-made or homemade gun. More specifically, it is a gun which has no serial number. Thus, it is untraceable – without a serial number, a gun can not registered with any law enforcement agency.
But how are these types of guns made? Usually, they are built with kits which include the parts and equipment. For example, a person could order a kit and build the gun at home. In other cases, a person can buy the individual parts and equipment needed. For those who are able to do metal casting or 3-D printing, a ghost gun can be entirely homemade.
Kits to make guns at home, as well as individual parts, are widely available online. Additionally, the kits and parts are sold at gun shows and through private sales. If a person were to purchase a kit or part, they do not need to go through a background check.
New York’s Laws on Ghost Guns
As indicated above, homemade guns have no serial numbers which means they are not registered. In New York, all handguns must be registered; long guns are not subject to registration.
More recently, New York has come down hard on ghost guns. In 2021, the state’s governor signed the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act and the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act into law. Now, ghost guns and any un-serialized gun parts (frames and receivers) are illegal to possess or sell. A person also cannot have a kit or part shipped to a New York address.
Additionally, New York has laws prohibiting guns which cannot be detected by security screenings such as metal detectors. For example, firearms and parts that are made by 3-D printers cannot be manufactured or sold in New York.
Regardless of serial numbers and registration requirements, persons who are prohibited by law from owning firearms cannot possess or manufacture any firearm or gun parts (barrel, slide or cylinder, frame, and receiver).
- Brady United, What Are Ghost Guns? Available at: https://www.bradyunited.org/fact-sheets/what-are-ghost-guns (last accessed Dec. 6, 2022).
- Giffords Law Center, Ghost Guns in New York. Available at: https://giffords.org/lawcenter/state-laws/ghost-guns-in-new-york/ (last accessed Dec. 6, 2022).
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