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Ghost guns are prohibited in the District of Columbia.1 With certain exceptions, the District defines a ghost gun2 as:

  • A firearm that, after the removal of grips, stocks, and magazines, is not as detectable as the Security Exemplar by walk-through metal detectors calibrated and operated to detect the Security Exemplar;3
  • Any major component of a firearm that, when subjected to inspection by the types of detection devices commonly used at secure public buildings and transit stations, does not generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the component; or
  • A firearm, including a frame or receiver,4 that lacks a unique serial number engraved or cast on it by a licensed manufacturer or importer in accordance with federal law, assigned by the agency of a State and permanently engraved or cast on the firearm, or otherwise placed on the firearm.

A person may register a self-assembled firearm for personal use so long as they affix a unique serial number onto the firearm in accordance with the following conditions:5

  • A unique serial number is engraved or cast on, or otherwise permanently affixed to, the firearm in a manner that meets or exceeds the requirements imposed on licensed importers and licensed manufacturers of firearms under federal law; 
  • The serial number consists of the first and last name of the self-manufacturer, followed by the designation “DC” and then a set of 2 to 5 numbers;
  • The set of numbers does not duplicate any serial number placed by the self-manufacturer on any other firearm; and
  • The applicant confirms with the Metropolitan Police Department that the proposed serial number has not already been registered to another firearm.

A person who self-assembles a firearm must submit a registration application within five days of assembling the firearm.6


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  1. D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(8).[]
  2. D.C. Code §§ 7-2501.01(9B)(A).[]
  3. Security Exemplar is defined in 18 USC § 922(p)(2) as “an object, to be fabricated at the direction of the Attorney General, that is—(i) constructed of . . . 3.7 ounces of material type 17-4 PH stainless steel in a shape resembling a handgun; and (ii) suitable for testing and calibrating metal detectors.”[]
  4. “Frame or receiver” is defined as “a part of a firearm that, when the complete weapon is assembled, is visible from the exterior and provides the housing or structure designed to hold or integrate one or more fire control components.” D.C. Code §7-2501.01.[]
  5. D.C. Code § 7-2504.01(a)(1); D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(c).[]
  6. D.C. Code § 7–2502.06(c).[]