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On August 24th, new ATF regulations clarifying the definition of a privately made firearm and adding requirements to federally licensed sellers of firearms made from partially completed or unfinished frames or receivers took effect. Under the new regulations, firearms dealers are required to complete background checks on anyone attempting to purchase the PCFRs or weapons kits that can be turned into a gun. The summary of the new rule says “weapon parts kits or aggregations of weapon parts that are designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive are also “firearms” under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3)(A).”

person near 3D printer

3D Printed firearms are subject to certain restrictions under federal and state law | Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement announcing that the federal rule was now in effect.

A weapon parts kit is considered a firearm under federal regulations. Is that kit a firearm under Pennsylvania law?

Since the rule just took effect, no Pennsylvania court has ruled on the question yet. Under chapter 61 of the Pennsylvania crimes code, a firearm is defined as “[a]ny pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches, or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicable.” That definition doesn’t include the phrase “weapon kit.” 

What’s the significance of the new rule for Pennsylvania residents?

Although the crimes code doesn’t specify whether a weapon kit is a firearm under Pennsylvania law, for the purposes of clearing the federal background check, that kit is a firearm.

If someone is a person not to possess a firearm under 18 Pa. C.S. § 6105, can they possess a weapon kit?

Pennsylvania’s persons not to possess statute says that it’s illegal to manufacture a firearm. Possessing a weapon kit when you’re restricted by Section 6105 is a bad idea.

*Information in this article is for education purposes only. Contact a licensed attorney in your area for legal advice.