What Happens If You Get Caught With a Ghost Gun in Ohio?

Written By: Moermond & Mulligan, LLC

Last Updated: 03-06-2024

Posted on Monday, February 5th, 2024 at 9:00 am    

What Happens If You Get Caught With a Ghost Gun in Ohio

Ghost guns are a growing Ohio firearms trend. However, before you jump on the ghost gun bandwagon, you must understand Ohio gun laws and the potential consequences of owning and carrying a ghost gun.

What is a ghost gun, and are they illegal? At Moermond & Mulligan, LLC, our Cincinnati criminal defense lawyers want to help you understand Ohio gun laws and how owning a ghost gun could come back to haunt you under specific circumstances.

What Is a Ghost Gun and Are They Illegal?

What are ghost guns? Ghost guns are a type of DIY or homemade firearm. Individuals can purchase pieces online and assemble the gun at home or purchase online “kits” without answering questions or going through a background check. Ghost guns are unregulated firearms designed to circumvent current gun laws. These weapons have no serial number and can be virtually untraceable. They are popular among gangs, criminal elements, and individuals who cannot pass a standard background check.

Ghost gun kits contain all the elements an individual needs to create a fully functioning firearm. Once assembled, it looks and operates just like a traditional firearm. There are also plans that show individuals how to use a 3D printer to “build” a ghost gun. Currently, there are no laws in Ohio that restrict average individuals from obtaining or using ghost guns.

Potential Ghost Gun Charges

While there are limited laws on the books in Ohio concerning ghost guns, it is illegal to sell or transfer privately made ghost guns without a serial number to other individuals. Federal agents have arrested people in Ohio for making and selling ghost guns. You cannot engage in the business of selling unregistered firearms for profit or to sustain your livelihood. Additionally, those prohibited from possessing firearms, like convicted felons, cannot legally possess ghost guns and can face significant legal repercussions for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Penalties for conviction can include fines of up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison.

The concern over ghost guns has led to limited government regulation, namely a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives update to federal gun regulations that state ghost gun kits must include products with serial numbers. A lower court ruling meant the government was barred from regulating ghost guns. However, the Supreme Court froze the lower court’s ruling, and regulations remain in effect.  

Why Do Criminals Use Ghost Guns?

What Happens If You Get Caught With a Ghost Gun in OhioThe appeal of ghost guns for use in criminal activity is apparent. Ghost guns are unserialized and unregulated. Kits are readily available from the internet and other outlets, meaning access is unrestricted. While ghost guns may seem like an excellent do-it-yourself project for gun enthusiasts, many consider ghost guns a threat and particularly dangerous. Since they are unregulated, ghost guns are popular with gangs and criminal elements because they are easy to obtain, and law enforcement cannot trace them.

Traditional firearms contain a unique serial number. When a firearm is involved in a crime, and law enforcement has the weapon in their possession, they can use the serial number to trace the history and ownership of the gun. The serial number also provides information related to the weapon’s date and location of manufacturing. This information can help law enforcement track individuals who may be suspected of committing violent crimes or firearm offenses. Ghost guns do not have a serial number and cannot be traced by law enforcement, making them ideal for individuals with less than good intentions.

Ghost guns are also a popular option for those looking to avoid background checks and individuals who cannot legally own or carry a firearm. Those prohibited from possessing a firearm in Ohio include:

  • Convicted felons
  • Fugitives from justice
  • Individuals under indictment for violent offenses
  • Individuals deemed mentally incompetent
  • People who are drug addicts or chronic alcoholics

Ghost guns are not technically illegal in Ohio. However, they can find their way into the hands of individuals who should not legally own, possess, or carry firearms, and that can trigger legal consequences.

Are You Facing Gun Charges? Discuss Your Case with a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer  

Are you facing gun charges related to ghost guns or the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon? Do not attempt to talk your way out of this situation. Discuss your case with an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense attorney. At Moermond & Mulligan, LLC, we have more than five decades of combined legal experience and a successful track record of helping clients navigate criminal cases.

Call our Cincinnati office today at (513) 421-9790 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.