ATF Considers Changing Definition of ‘Firearm’ in Order to Target ‘Ghost Guns’

California Gun Controls
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

The ATF is weighing changes to the definition of “firearm” in order to target guns built from kits and/or parts printed on 3D printers.

Democrats often refer to such guns as “ghost guns,” claiming they present a way to bypass gun control.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the ATF is framing the scenario as an expansion of what can be categorized as a “firearm,” a move that “could subject ghost guns to the same regulations as other firearms.”

The ATF’s April Langwell defended the agency’s look into new regulations for such guns, saying, “ATF routinely meets with our regulated industry participants to discuss matters of mutual concern. One of those meetings is scheduled for this week, and ATF looks forward to continuing this important dialogue.”

But the ATF’s claim that there was some degree of “mutual concern” shared by the ATF and gun rights groups was undercut by National Shooting Sports (NSSF) President Lawrence Keane. He made clear that while the NSSF was happy to speak with the ATF about the topic, he had “not seen credible evidence and statistics demonstrating that this is a significant issue.”

Ironically, in 2018 the ATF attempted to expand the meaning of “machine gun” so as to include the firearm accessory known as a bump stock. A bump stock has no barrel, no trigger, no firing pin, and no action, but the ATF categorized the accessory as a “machine gun” and banned them on March 26, 2019.

On March 25, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled the ATF lacked the power to designate bump stocks as machine guns.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at Sign up to get Down Range at


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