Gov. Wolf Announces New Ghost Gun Regulations Now in Effect, Pennsylvania Stands Ready to Stop Gun Violence 

August 24, 2022

Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the new federal rule aimed at cracking down on ghost guns and keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals goes into effect today. Federally licensed firearms dealers in Pennsylvania that sell or distribute partially completed frames or receivers (PCFRs) that would allow a person to build a gun at home are now required to conduct background checks before selling or transferring those parts, which will be completed by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

“Gun deaths are at an all-time high across the nation and right here in Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “We can prevent some of this tragedy by keeping weapons out of the hands of those who can’t pass a background check. Today, thanks to the Biden Administration, we are able to do just that – if you can’t pass a background check to purchase a fully assembled gun, you also won’t be able to purchase the PCFRs to build your own gun at home. This is long overdue, and we’re ready to implement this rule in Pennsylvania immediately.”

The final rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives takes effect today. The final rule implements several changes, including changes to the definition of “frame or receiver.”  In addition, the changes in the final rule require federally licensed firearms dealers to conduct background checks on purchasers and transferees before selling or transferring PCFRs. In accordance with its role as the state and federal point of contact for dealers to conduct the required federal background checks, the PSP will conduct the newly required background checks for dealers.

Ghost guns have been recognized as a fast-growing safety concern for the United States. In recognition of this, the PSP began officially tracking seizure of and recovery of ghost guns from crime scenes in 2021. Philadelphia began tracking these same numbers in 2019. Philadelphia recorded 95 seizures and recoveries in 2019, 250 in 2020, and a startling 571 in 2021. PSP recorded 24 seizures and recoveries in 2021. Combined, PSP and Philadelphia have recorded 334 to date in 2022.

Gov. Wolf has worked throughout his administration to combat gun violence in Pennsylvania and even to specifically address incidents involving ghost guns.

“My office has been sounding the alarm on ghost guns and how they’re becoming the weapon of choice for criminals for years. We tried, through a legal opinion from our office, to implement background checks for these untraceable weapons in 2019 but were quickly blocked from doing so by litigation from the gun lobbies,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “For years convicted felons, violent drug dealers, have all been able to buy these guns at gun shows without a background check. With these new federal regulations taking effect today and being implemented in our Commonwealth, we are making it harder for gun kits to end up in the hands of criminals and easier for law enforcement to track crime guns in their investigations. All this helps make Pennsylvania communities safer.”

Efforts to curb gun violence in Pennsylvania include:

  • In 2019, Gov. Wolf signed an executive order making sweeping changes to gun violence in Pennsylvania including the creation of a Special Council on Gun Violence.
  • He has invested more than $50 million in grassroots, community gun violence prevention programs around the commonwealth.
  • In December 2021, he vetoed Senate Bill 565, dangerous legislation that would have removed licensing and background check requirements for concealed carry permits and overturned Philadelphia’s requirement for a permit to open carry.
  • In January of this year, he vetoed House Bill 979, which would discourage local jurisdictions from attempting to regulate firearms.
  • In his final budget, Gov. Wolf committed $160 million to preventing violence in Pennsylvania communities.

For more information and a complete summary of the new rules, visit atf.gov.

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