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New York wields new nuisance law against manufacturers of ghost guns

Not even a week after the Supreme Court gave New Yorkers more freedom to carry guns, city and state leaders are taking aim at some of the businesses that arm residents with the tools to build their own firearms.

MANHATTAN (CN) — The New York attorney general and New York City doubled down Wednesday on the quest to outlaw “ghost guns,” bringing municipal and federal litigation against gun manufacturers and distributors that sell weapons by the part.

“While families mourned loved ones lost to senseless gun violence, gun sellers avoided accountability for the illegal and dangerous weapons they sold,” New York Attorney General Letitia James in a press release. “There should be no more immunity for gun distributors bringing harm and havoc to New York.”

The lawsuit comes after the state conducted an investigation that showed tens of thousands of shipments from these manufacturers to New Yorkers since 2017. James says undercover agents were recently able to purchase unfinished frames without serial numbers or a background check from these businesses. 

State laws prohibit the sale of unfinished frames and receivers because it allows for individuals to make minor changes and essentially build their own, untraceable gun, hence the name “ghost gun.”

As the guns become more accessible, New York law enforcement have seized nearly 400 in the last year alone. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says meanwhile that the recovery of ghost guns at crime scenes has spiked over the last five years, from just over 1,700 recovered in 2016 to over 19,000 last year.

James also points out how these businesses market to their customers the ease of buying their parts to build a gun. Glockstore is quoted in the state's lawsuit as stating on its website: “You can build a completely legal handgun without any ‘government oversight’ aka interference. ... No fuss, no muss, no registration, no records.”

Glockstore is one of the few defendants named in state court by the state that does not also appear in a federal lawsuit from New York City. Both cases name the out-of-state entities Arm or Ally, 80P Builder, Indie Guns, Rainier Arms and Rock Slide.

“We are not going to let gun companies turn New York City into a city of mail-order murder,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said. “We will not stand by while illegal operators flout the law, endanger our communities, and kill our young people.”

The Democrat's statement quotes Yanelly Henriquez, a mother in the Bronx, whose 16-year-old daughter, Angellyh Yamnbo, was killed with a bullet from a ghost gun this past April.

“Angellyh unfairly left this world without saying ‘I love you or goodbye’ to her loved ones,” said Henriquez. “Your companies are to blame for selling these ghost guns that took my precious daughter's life only to profit for your gain.”

April also saw President Joe Biden take a swing at ghost guns, issuing a rule that requires the businesses that sell the gun-making kits to have a license, conduct a background check and keep records.

New York City and AG James are seeking restitution and an acknowledgement from the business to the public. The lawsuits marks the first application of the new Public Nuisance Law, with claims of endangering the safety and health of the public.

Only six days earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York's tough restrictions for gun owners to carry a concealed weapon in public. 

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