LA city attorney announces lawsuit against ghost gun kit manufacturer

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced a lawsuit against Nevada-based Polymer80 for allegedly violating federal and California law by selling "ghost gun'' kits online.

"Untraceable ghost guns are the emerging weapon of choice for criminals, here in L.A. and around the country. We're fighting to stem this tide at a time when gun violence is devastating neighborhoods in our city,'' Feuer said. "Nobody who could buy a serialized gun and pass a background check would ever need a ghost gun. Yet we allege Polymer80 has made it easy for anyone, including felons, to buy and build weapons that pose a major public safety threat.''

Of the 1,500 ghost guns that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives entered into its national database in 2019, more than 86% were made from Polymer80 components. The company shipped about 9,400 items
to customers in California between January 2019 and October 2020, according to Feuer.

He also said the ATF previously stated that of the 10,000 ghost guns recovered by law enforcement in the U.S. in 2019, approximately 2,700 were recovered in California.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said ghost guns are uniquely prevalent in Los Angeles.

"We're suddenly witnessing this surge in gun violence and many are asking what are the underlying influences or factors. I'm confident that undoubtedly a significant influence is too may guns in too many hands,'' Moore said. "Ghost guns are a phenomenon not seen in many other cities, nowhere near the degree that we see here in Los Angeles.''

Feuer noted that the convicted felon who allegedly ambushed two sheriff's deputies in Compton in September used a ghost gun made with components sold by Polymer80.

Polymer80 could not immediately be reached for a response to the lawsuit and allegations.

"Just last year, LAPD has recovered in criminal investigations more than 700 ghost guns containing component parts derived from Polymer80. Three hundred of those weapons were recovered in South Los Angeles, where I emphasized we're seeing the spike in gun violence here in L.A.,'' Feuer said.

The city is seeking an injunction to stop ghost guns with Polymer80 parts flowing into Los Angeles, according to Feuer. Officials are also seeking penalties and an abatement fund to help Los Angeles grapple with the impact of gun violence, which the city alleges is tied in part to Polymer80. In the lawsuit, the city alleges that Polymer80:

-- engages in misleading advertising by suggesting to customers that the purchase and possession of the kits are lawful;

-- violates federal law by selling firearms in the form of ghost gun kits without serial numbers, background checks and child safety locks; and 

-- violates California law by aiding and abetting handgun manufacturers that don't comply with safety specifications required under California's Unsafe Handgun Act and California's certification and serial number requirements.

The lawsuit is in collaboration with Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.

"In Los Angeles and many other cities, police are recovering a growing number of ghost guns, most of them made from kits and parts sold by Polymer80,'' said Eric Tirschwell, managing director of Everytown Law. "The surge in these untraceable guns is a problem that federal regulators can solve, but because they haven't yet, cities are left to deal with the consequences. This lawsuit is an important step to hold Polymer80 accountable and send a message to other suppliers, and it paints a disturbing picture of what cities are dealing with. It also underscores that the ATF must do more to shut down the ghost gun industry.''

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council authorized Feuer to negotiate and execute contracts with Everytown Law and Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart and
Sullivan to receive their pro bono services to develop and implement legal
strategies to combat the guns in Los Angeles.

During Wednesday's announcement for the lawsuit, Councilman Paul Krekorian, who introduced that motion, said that for decades, Los Angeles "has led the nation in enacting common sense approaches to reducing gun violence. It's an outrage that unscrupulous out-of-state companies enrich themselves by selling kits that can easily be assembled into deadly weapons over the Internet to circumvent our laws.''

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