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Purchasing parts for “ghost guns” can get you into trouble

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in America. The state requires permits for both open and concealed carry of handguns, prohibits the possession of assault weapons and even has laws on the number of rounds magazines can carry.

Most recently, the state has also moved to restrict the manufacture, sale and building of self-made guns. Dubbed “ghost guns” because they lack serial numbers, self-made guns have become a growing national issue. You could face severe penalties if you’re caught purchasing or building a ghost gun kit.

Why are ghost guns dangerous?

Anyone can build a ghost gun from do-it-yourself kits that have “unfinished” gun frames and receivers. Their unfinished state allows unlicensed manufacturers to sell them unregulated and circumvent state laws easily. But ghost gun kits are 80% complete, only requiring assembly and minimal work to turn into a fully functioning firearm.

Because they’re easy to procure and assemble and are impossible to trace without serial numbers, there has been a strong link between ghost guns and crime. In a 2020 study of criminal cases involving ghost guns, over 1,300 self-made guns connected to illegal activity were possessed, created, or sold by individuals prohibited from buying or using firearms.

State law on ghost guns

Since 2018, New Jersey has been enacting, strengthening and updating laws prohibiting ghost guns. Under current law, anyone who buys firearm parts – individually or as a kit – to create an untraceable firearm is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

A conviction for buying ghost gun parts also doesn’t combine with other criminal offenses, so the individual could also be separately convicted for manufacturing a handgun, rifle or shotgun (a fourth-degree crime) or for creating a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun or assault firearm (a third-degree crime).

A third-degree criminal conviction carries a five-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of up to $15,000. Meanwhile, a fourth-degree criminal conviction comes with an 18-month prison sentence and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.

Whether you’re an innocent gun enthusiast who happened to purchase a ghost gun kit or were gifted parts, you could be convicted of a crime if you’re caught possessing the items. Consider consulting a legal professional to understand your rights and how you can defend yourself in court.