Although our Constitution gives us the right to own firearms, the U.S. government has placed several restrictions on gun transactions and ownership. Guns must typically be bought and sold by licensed dealers, and those seeking to purchase a firearm usually must be subjected to a background check. However, some areas of federal gun laws are relaxed, which could lead to an individual being charged with a federal gun crime.
Reports have indicated that the California black market is seeing a surge in "ghost guns." These firearms are homemade and lack a serial number or any other feature that could help law enforcement officers track their movement. Although it is illegal to sell or trade these weapons, it is not illegal to manufacture them. In fact, a person with the right tools and the right materials could make a homemade gun relatively easily. This may be appealing to gun collectors, but these individuals should be careful with what they do with these weapons, as any transfer of ownership could lead to federal weapons charges.
Many California residents have already been taken into custody for the illegal sale of ghost guns. The most recent arrest came on December 10, when ATF agents arrested two individuals and allegedly seized 44 weapons and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The investigation apparently took 14 months.
Facing federal gun charges can be scary, particularly since the penalties upon conviction can be quite severe. However, there may be defense options available to those who are accused. Illegal searches and seizures, for example, could lead to the suppression of evidence, which might help lean a jury towards acquittal.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, "California black market surges for 'ghost guns'," Sam Stanton and Denny Walsh, Dec. 19, 2015