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California Implements Strict Regulations on Unserialized Firearms (Ghost Guns)

California has taken significant steps to address the rising concerns surrounding unserialized firearms, commonly known as ghost guns. With the passage of Assembly Bill 1621 (AB 1621) in 2022, the state has heavily regulated the possession, sale, transfer, and manufacture of unserialized firearm precursor parts. This comprehensive legislation aims to control these DIY firearms and enhance public safety by ensuring greater accountability and traceability. Let's delve into the key provisions and implications of AB 1621.

Expanded Definition and Prohibition of Unserialized Firearm Precursor Parts

AB 1621 broadens the definition of a firearm precursor part to include any article that can be readily completed, assembled, or converted into a functional firearm frame or receiver. This expanded definition encompasses various manufacturing stages, such as forgings, castings, printed parts, extrusions, and machined bodies.

Moreover, the bill covers marketing or selling such items for use as firearm frames or receivers once they are completed, assembled, or converted.

Under AB 1621, the sale, transfer, or possession of unserialized firearm precursor parts is strictly prohibited, except as specified by the legislation. This measure plans to limit the availability and spread of ghost guns, which have been associated with criminal activities and pose significant challenges for law enforcement due to their untraceable nature.

Mandatory Identification Marking and Serial Numbers

To enhance traceability, AB 1621 mandates individuals possessing unserialized firearms to apply to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) for a unique mark of identification. This mark must be affixed to the firearm before January 1, 2024.

Starting from that date, the possession or transfer of a firearm without a serial number or identification mark is considered illegal and constitutes a misdemeanor offense.

This requirement for unique ID marks aims to enable law enforcement to track and investigate firearms used in crimes.

Additionally, new residents in California are granted a 60-day window after their arrival to request identification for any unserialized firearms they legally possess.

Restrictions on Firearms Manufacturing Equipment and Purchasing Limits

AB 1621 also imposes restrictions on firearms manufacturing equipment.

Certain specified firearms manufacturing equipment is prohibited for possession, sale, transfer, or use, with exceptions for entities such as the U.S. Armed Forces, the National Guard, and law enforcement.

Furthermore, the legislation limits individuals from purchasing more than one completed frame or receiver, as well as firearm precursor parts, within a 30-day period, effective from January 1, 2024. This will curb the accumulation and unregulated distribution of unserialized firearms.

Penalties and Future Regulations

AB 1621 establishes severe penalties for violations of the law.

Individuals convicted of manufacturing unserialized firearms or aiding in their manufacture, after January 1, 2023, are prohibited from gun possession, ownership, or related activities for a period of ten years.

The legislation also empowers the DOJ to enact regulations in support of AB 1621's objectives. This provision allows the agency to develop guidelines, such as the potential requirement for licenses to purchase or receive firearm precursor parts.


California's Assembly Bill 1621 represents a significant effort to regulate unserialized firearms and address the challenges posed by ghost guns.

By expanding the definition of firearm precursor parts, mandating identification marking, prohibiting possession and transfer without serial numbers or identification marks, and imposing restrictions on manufacturing equipment and purchasing limits, the state aims to enhance public safety and traceability.

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