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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Ghost gunmaker agrees to pay LA $5 million and abide by new regulations

The company will be barred from selling its "buy, build, shoot" kits in California unless it performs background checks on customers and includes serial numbers.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Polymer80, the nation's largest producer of at-home gun assembly kits — sometimes called "ghost guns" because they typically come without serial numbers and are impossible to trace — agreed to pay $5 million in penalties to settle a civil suit, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney's office.

The terms of the settlement have not been finalized but were laid out in a statement Tuesday. According to the announcement, Nevada-based Polymer80 will be permanently enjoined from selling its "buy, build, shoot" kits to customers in California "without first conducting background checks of buyers and without utilizing serial numbers on its products." It will also "no longer be able to provide customer support to assist individuals attempting to construct its ghost guns in California."

The company also agreed to pay $4 million in civil penalties, while its two founders will pay an additional $1 million.

“This settlement holds Polymer80 and its founders accountable, keeps guns out of the hands of prohibited people, makes LA neighborhoods safer and will help law enforcement do their jobs,” said LA City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto in a written statement.

Soto said the LAPD has recovered more than 4,200 Polymer80 ghost guns since January 2020.

"Online, no-questions-asked sales of ghost gun-building kits have funneled too many firearms into the hands of felons, minors, and other prohibited people," said Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law, the public interest law wing of the gun control advocacy group. "This settlement sends a loud and clear message that gun sellers that put profit over public safety will be held accountable."

Attorneys for Polymer80 did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The public nuisance lawsuit against Polymer80 was filed in February 2021 by then-LA City Attorney Mike Feuer on behalf of the state of California. In the complaint, Feuer linked a number of shootings to Polymer80 firearms, including a 2019 school shooting in Santa Clarita which left three high school students dead, including the shooter, and two others injured.

"Defendants’ sales practices make a mockery of federal and state background check laws," the city said in the complaint. "Before completing each sale, defendants not only fail to conduct formal background checks, on information and belief, defendants ask customers to merely 'self-certify' that they do not have a felony record."

The city noted that in Los Angeles, more than 40% of all firearms recovered from criminal investigations lack serial numbers. Everytown for Gun Safety has called ghost guns the fastest-growing gun safety problem in the U.S.

In July 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing people to sue manufacturers of illegal weapons, including ghost guns, for damages when their weapons are used to commit crimes. The law drew a challenge in federal court this past week. California is just one of many states to have crafted a number of onerous restrictions on firearm kit manufacturers.

Polymer80's kits are known as "blanks," or "unfinished frames" frames for pistols, "unfinished receivers" for rifles. The company sells all the parts necessary to construct an AR-15 style rifle as well as various handguns. In order to assemble them at home, the buyer must drill a number of holes in the receiver with the use of either a drill press or a milling machine. In most cases, the buyer must add components like the barrel and trigger.

Many of its kits are banned in more than a dozen states. Last year, a judge in the District of Columbia ruled that Polymer80's kits were illegal in Washington, D.C.

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Categories / Business, Law, Regional

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