TULSA, Okla. — After the Department of Justice announced this week a plan to crack down on privately made firearms that don’t include serial numbers, we wanted to take a look at how common they are in Oklahoma.
The new rule modernizes the definition of a firearm under federal law. It clarifies that parts kits are subject to the same regulations as a traditional firearm as well as requiring those parts to be licensed and have serial numbers.
The newly submitted rule is known as the “frame or receiver” rule. It applies no matter how the firearm is made, meaning it applies to individual parts, kits or those made by 3D printers.
“It really doesn’t change anything for the public. However, it might change some things for the industry going forward of how they do business, what they sell and how they sell it,” said TJ Boddie the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Oklahoma and Dallas division.
The government says the goal is to combat what some refer to as "ghost guns," but ATF says the technical term is privately made firearms (PMF).
“First of all ghosts aren’t real but privately made firearms are," Boddie said. "The privately made firearm will hurt you just the same as a regular firearm from any other manufacturer. I am not going to say it’s not any different because it’s different since somebody else makes it on their own. I don’t like the term ghost gun. Again it’s not a very scientific term. It’s not very telling term and it doesn’t really refer to the firearm as truly what it is.”
Boddie says privately made firearms aren’t a big problem in Oklahoma. For Tulsa County, from October 2021 to March 2022, ATF says it seized only four PMFs.
“The rise in privately made firearms is seen basically in places with stringent state gun control laws, again this is from my research and reading, such as California. California sees a lot of privately made firearms,” Bobbie said.
He says what they are seeing is an alarming rise in parts that modify guns to run fully automatic.
"It dramatically increases the fire rate of a firearm such as the Glock or the AR-15 and every bullet has the potential to kill someone so the more bullets you can shoot faster the higher the potential,” he said.
Boddie estimates in the last month his division has seized 50 firearms that have been modified with these parts to run fully automatic.
These products are illegal but are being 3D printed and smuggled in from other countries.
As far as privately made firearms go, he says there’s nothing wrong with making them.
"Only when those firearms begin changing hands does that become a problem or someone who starts manufacturing firearms for the sale or buying these for resale and there’s a profit,” Boddie said.
I reached out to multiple gun shops for comment but no one wanted to do an interview only saying this rule doesn’t affect them. The rule goes into effect in August.
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