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The Facts on Ghost Guns and Weapons Charges

By San Diego Attorney on September 11, 2019

The colloquial term “ghost gun” refers to firearms that are not made by regular gun manufacturers, do not have serial numbers, and are not registered with the government. Most of these guns are made by hobbyists at home, or in small, unlicensed operations.

Outside of hobbyists who enjoy the craftsmanship of making guns, the appeal of these weapons is that they can be acquired by those who cannot legally purchase guns. This would include those who have been convicted of a felony, and thereby cannot possess a gun, and those who could not pass the background check required by California law to purchase a gun. Ghost guns are also favored by those conducting illegal activity—since they have no serial number and aren’t registered, they cannot be traced.

If you are caught with one, law enforcement may make certain assumptions, and you will need a strong defense to avoid being charged with a gun-related crime.

What Are Legal Homemade Firearms in California?

It is not illegal to make your own gun in most U.S. states. Most components of a gun can be purchased online or in stores, provided you are able to own a gun. However, you must apply to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a serial number to engrave on the gun, and then register it. With a few exceptions, it is illegal to sell a homemade gun.

Functioning Lower Receiver

Semi-automatic weapons and rifles like the AR-15 are legal to build in California. Most of the components can be bought without a background check—except the most important component, the “lower receiver.” For a semi-automatic to fire a bullet, it must have a functioning lower receiver.

In order to purchase a lower receiver, you must pass a background check. Unlike some states, California requires those who buy a lower receiver to also apply to the DOJ for a serial number to engrave on the component.

Has Enforcement Fallen Behind the Technology?

As we have seen in the case of self-driven cars, the speed of technology sometimes outpaces state and federal laws. Computers, the Internet, smartphones, and drones are also examples of this. Thanks to new technologies like 3-D printing, making homemade weapons is easier than ever. Lawmakers are scrambling to pass legislation concerning this, but it is a work in progress.

If you have been stopped with an un-serialized homemade firearm in California, the lack of legislation at the moment may be used to your advantage. Being caught with such a gun could result in weapons charges; but with the help of an experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer, the gray areas of current ghost gun laws can be exposed and used to get your charges dismissed. Unless you are a convicted felon, you have Second Amendment rights.

If you have any questions regarding homemade guns and the law in California, contact the experienced defense team at jD LAW, P.C.—call  (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation.

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A note from James N. Dicks:

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law.

Currently San Diego Superior Courts are closed but are set to reopen on Tuesday May 26th, 2020 barring any
future orders.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family. Please follow us on Facebook for any future updates.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law.

Los Tribunales Superiores de San Diego están cerrados, pero están programados para reabrir el martes 26 de mayo de 2020, salvo una nueva orden.

No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia. Síganos en Facebook para seguir siendo informado de novedades nuevas.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law. No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia.

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