After being asked for guidance by the Pennsylvania State Police, Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a statement on Monday expressing his official legal opinion that 80% receivers should be classified - and regulated - as firearms. "80% receiver" is industry jargon for a partially constructed gun frame; the item itself cannot operate as a gun without being modified.
For most people, 80% receivers are a fun afternoon tinkering project. The downside to this is that most of them are not serialized, meaning that they are untraceable, unregulated, and can easily be used to make "ghost guns." This is fine for responsible hobbyists, but it can also be used to circumvent gun laws by anyone - including convicted felons and domestic abusers.
“If we don’t recognize that 80% receivers are firearms under Pennsylvania law, we are creating a giant loophole that allows criminals to skirt our agreed-upon laws that keep people safe,” said Gov. Wolf. “Changing this classification will not hurt legal, responsible gun owners – This change will stop criminals, terrorists and other people who can’t pass a background check from acquiring a gun through the loophole.”
Following the issuance of the AG's official legal opinion, the Office of the Attorney General and the Pennsylvania State Police will work together to create an implementation strategy to ensure that 80% receivers do not end up in the hands of those who would not normally be allowed to purchase firearms.
“We’re here because too many criminals have taken advantage of these loopholes to gain access to guns that they should never have had to begin with. We’ve read the same headlines, had the same emotional reactions, submitted to the same numbness, rinse and repeat,” Shapiro said. “Hopefully, with today’s interpretation, we can add onto the wide array of efforts my Office – in partnership with entities like the Pennsylvania State Police and the Governor’s Office – have undertaken to save lives.”