‘Ghost gun’ companies fail to end New York attorney general’s lawsuit

By Thomson Reuters Feb 23, 2024 | 2:09 PM

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – Nine companies that sell unfinished guns without serial numbers, used to make untraceable “ghost guns,” must face a lawsuit by New York’s Democratic attorney general seeking to halt their business in the state, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan rejected the companies’ argument that their products are not weapons. He pointed to the companies’ marketing materials, including boasts that it was “ridiculously easy” to turn their products into guns and that “even a caveman can do this.”

The defendants include Arm or Ally, Rainier Arms, 80P Builder, Rock Slide USA, Brownells, 80 Percent Arms, Glockstore, KM Tactical and Primary Arms. Attorney General Letitia James’ office and lawyers for the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

James sued them in 2022, saying their products could not be traced by law enforcement and fueled gun violence. A 10th defendant, Indie Guns, has not responded to the lawsuit and James is seeking a default judgment against it.

The lawsuit alleged that the companies sell frames and receivers, the core parts of handguns and rifles, without the serial numbers required by law for firearms. The resulting so-called ghost guns can be obtained by people legally barred from owning guns, and their untraceability has made them the “weapon of choice” for violent criminals in New York, it said.

James cited a spike in the number of ghost guns recovered at crime scenes, from 44 in 2018 to 797 in 2022, and said several defendants had shipped products to an address where a man was later arrested for threatening his wife and child with a gun.

A federal appeals court in New Orleans in November found that the unfinished frames and receivers were not firearms, striking down a Biden administration rule intended to crack down on them.

Furman on Friday called that court’s reasoning “neither binding nor persuasive.” The administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis)