HARRISBURG, February 22, 2024 – In a significant win for gun violence prevention advocates, on February 16th the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld the City of Philadelphia’s authority to enforce its 2021 ban on ghost guns. The ruling has broad implications and could open the door to other cities across Pennsylvania enacting similar ordinances that address this rapidly growing public safety threat. Ghost guns are do-it-yourself, homemade firearms that can be assembled from a kit with no serial number, can be purchased without a background check, and can sometimes be 3D-printed – the perfect weapon for use in a crime.

“Ghost guns shoot, kill, and destroy lives in the exact same way as traditional firearms, but they’ve long evaded even the most basic existing gun safety regulations. No more.” said Adam Garber, CeaseFirePA Education Fund’s Executive Director. “This decision by the Commonwealth Court recognizes ghost guns as the menace that they are and the increasingly common go-to for violent criminals seeking untraceable firearms. Philadelphia’s ghost gun ban will save lives, end the proliferation of these deadly weapons, and help Philadelphia to enforce existing federal and state laws. While we continue to urge the General Assembly to ban ghost guns statewide, we encourage Pennsylvania’s local elected officials whose constituents are clamoring for safer streets to use this upheld authority to end ghost guns in their communities.”

The threat to the public posed by ghost guns is quickly growing. The number of ghost guns recovered by law enforcement in the City of Philadelphia increased from just 12 in 2018 to 575 in 2022 – a 4,600% increase. The shooter in a high-profile mass shooting in Philadelphia’s Kingsessing neighborhood last July 4th weekend was armed with two ghost guns, according to City of Philadelphia police. Nationally, the U.S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) reports that in 2022, approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement – a ten-fold increase from 2016.

The Commonwealth Court’s decision this month affirmed a September 2022 lower court ruling by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. That ruling upheld the legality of the City of Philadelphia’s ghost gun ban ordinance, which prohibits the possession, use, transfer, or manufacture of raw materials or component parts into ghost guns. 

The upheld ban on ghost guns functionally means that manufacturers of these kits must register as firearms manufacturers, thus making them subject to standard legal requirements to include a serial number on the firearm frame and subjecting all transfers of these firearms to typical background checks.

CeaseFirePA and its statewide coalition of local elected officials, faith leaders, medical professionals, educators, and community organizations pledge to continue working toward their vision: a life free from gun violence.


As the Commonwealth’s leading gun violence prevention organization, CeaseFirePA Education Fund organizes communities closest to the issue, holds those in power accountable, and maximizes the strengths of every member in its broad coalition.

Facing the truth about gun violence in PA