Los Angeles – Citing the surge in deadly gun violence and the alarming jump in the number of untraceable guns recovered during police investigations, City Attorney Mike Feuer and Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, announced today an expansive lawsuit against Nevada-based Polymer80 – purportedly one of the nation’s largest sellers of “ghost gun” kits and component parts that enable buyers to build fully functional guns at home without complying with background checks or gun serialization requirements. The lawsuit alleges these kits are being sold in violation of federal and California gun laws. Non-serialized guns are referred to as “ghost guns” because they are untraceable. Frequently sold online, Polymer80’s ghost gun kits and components can easily be purchased by people prohibited from owning guns due to their criminal history or mental health status. In line with a nationwide increase, in recent years, ghost guns have represented over 40% of firearms recovered in Los Angeles area crime scene investigations, with over 700 of the ghost guns LAPD recovered in 2020 comprised of Polymer80 parts.
Supporting this lawsuit is Everytown Law, the litigation arm of one of the nation’s preeminent gun violence prevention organizations, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. Everytown has referred to ghost guns as the fastest-growing gun safety problem facing our country.
“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,” said Feuer. “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.”
“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, which is co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “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.”
"For decades, the City of Los Angeles has led the nation in enacting common sense approaches to reducing gun violence," said Councilmember Paul Krekorian, whose Council motion supported the litigation by allowing it to move forward with pro bono counsel. "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. Worse, when these weapons are deliberately designed to avoid tracing, and when they are sold without background checks and end up in the hands of felons, the risk that our people and our neighborhoods will suffer tragic violence increases dramatically. I am pleased to support the City Attorney in pursuing civil action against this ghost gun kit dealer, and I thank Everytown for Gun Safety for its vitally important work to end gun violence."
"The rise in shootings and the increased use of ghost guns is alarming," said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. "I fully support the legal action against Polymer80 and any business associated in the sale of gun kits intended to bypass background checks and ownership tracing. Their deceptive business practices not only enable guns to be placed in the hands of those who cannot legally possess them, they threaten public safety and undermine criminal investigations."
“Polymer80 enables would-be criminals to go under the radar, cause havoc in our communities and evade law enforcement,” said Councilmember Curren Price, who represents District 9. “Their business model allows buyers, including potentially felons, who might otherwise not be able to pass a background check to purchase a gun. These instances are detrimental to the safety and future of our society and must be addressed now. Do-it yourself guns procured without background checks and which lack serialization have no place in the hands of Angelenos and today is a step toward much-needed enforcement that will hold such manufacturers accountable.”
“More than 40 percent of the ghost guns LAPD recovered during the course of criminal investigations last year were recovered in South Los Angeles. We have to end this madness that allows for these tools of violence and mass destruction to be proliferated throughout our community,” said Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Manufacturers who continue to supply these weapons are not just threats to the public good, but also threats to our public safety and must be held to account.”
Polymer80, Inc. is a Nevada-based corporation that, according to Feuer’s complaint, has allegedly captured a very large percentage of the ghost gun kit and component market. The ATF has stated that approximately 10,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement nationwide in 2019 alone; of those, approximately 2,700 were recovered in California, and over 86% of the nearly 1,500 ghost guns entered into ATF’s national database in 2019 were made from Polymer80 components. Polymer80 shipped approximately 9,400 items to customers in California between January, 2019 and October, 2020, including at least 200 “Buy Build Shoot” kits containing all the parts needed to build fully functional untraceable guns.
The complaint also alleges Polymer80 engages in misleading advertising, which suggests to customers that the purchase and possession of its kits are lawful because they purportedly do not reach the necessary state of manufacture or completion to constitute a “firearm” under federal law. But Feuer’s complaint alleges that because its gun building kits are quickly and easily assembled into operable weapons, they do in fact meet this federal definition. Because these products allegedly are “firearms'' under federal law, Polymer80’s business practices of selling them without serial numbers, to purchasers residing in a different state, and without conducting background checks, are therefore allegedly illegal. In lieu of conducting background checks, Polymer80 has simply asked buyers on its website to check a box verifying that they are eligible under federal law and the laws of their state to purchase, own and use the components they are buying.
Polymer80 has also allegedly been violating California law by aiding and abetting in the manufacture of handguns that do not comply with safety specifications required under California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, as well as failing to comply with California’s certification and serial number requirements. Further, Polymer80’s sale of gun kits without serial numbers or background checks allegedly constitutes unfair competition to the licensed gun dealers in California who abide by the law.
Finally, Polymer80 has allegedly created a public nuisance by marketing and selling ghost gun kits to California residents without serial numbers, without conducting background checks and without the appropriate safety requirements, resulting in a significant threat to the public right of health and safety in public spaces.
Feuer’s lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing Polymer80 and its principals from violating California’s Unfair Competition Law, an injunction abating the public nuisance they have created by stopping sales of ghost gun kits, and penalties for violating California Unfair Competition Law.
Managing Assistant City Attorney Michael Bostrom, of the City Attorney’s Affirmative Litigation Division is managing this lawsuit.
Along with Everytown Law, the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is assisting the City Attorney’s Office in this case.
A nationally recognized leader in gun violence prevention, Feuer co-chairs Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, a coalition of 46 Prosecutors from 24 states representing 60-million Americans. The organization recently sent the Biden/Harris Administration a broad range of common sense gun safety and violence prevention recommendations that would make the country safer. This includes ending the proliferation of ghost guns.