New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sued 10 “ghost gun” manufacturers on Wednesday, alleging the companies sold tens of thousands of parts to New Yorkers that were used to create illegal, untraceable guns.
The lawsuit, filed about a month after a mass shooting at a Buffalo, NY, grocery market dead, accuseds the manufacturers of violating state left and federal laws by selling the untraceable weapons to convictedfelons and other consumers without background checks.
A press release from James’s office alleged that the gun manufacturers sold tens of thousands of unfinished frames and receivers that were converted into untraceable and unserialized firearms.
The attorney general said the state will hold “gun sellers accountable for fueling the gun violence crisis and endangering New Yorkers.”
“While families mourned loved ones lost to senseless gun violence, gun sellers avoided accountability for the illegal and dangerous weapons they sold,” James said in a statement. “There should be no more immunity for gun distributors bringing harm and havoc to New York.”
The companies named in the suit include: Brownells; Blackhawk Manufacturing Group; Salvo Technologies, Inc.; GS Performance; Indie Guns; Primary Arms; Arm or Ally; Rainier Arms; KM Tactical and Rock Slide USA.
The Hill has reached out to the companies for comment.
In a statement to The Hill, Christian Waugh, an attorney for Indie Guns, said the attorney general’s office did not reach out to discuss the matter before filing the lawsuit.
“Instead of making an effort at all to work with my client, New York authorities simply pulled the trigger because they are not interested in solutions. They are interested in creating problems that give them political platforms,” Waugh said. “This is absolutely a politically-motivated effort to vilify a small business that has violated no federal, state, or municipal law. Craft guns are not a problem. Like cars or baseball bats, they are almost always used for legal purposes. Sometimes, they can be misused by a person with bad intent.”
Ghost gun kits are typically sold online without a background check. After receiving them in the mail, customers can assemble their own guns that do not have serial numbers, identifiers which allow law enforcement to trace firearms.
Last year, roughly 20,000 ghost guns were reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF), according to the White House, a tenfold increase from 2016. In April, the Biden administration announced a ban on ghost gun manufacturing kits .
According to the New York attorney general’s office, officials linked tens of thousands of ghost gun kit shipments to New York to the businesses named in the suit addresses, dating back to 2017.
James is bringing her lawsuit against the companies by invoking the Public Nuisance Act in an effort to hold them responsible for allegedly bringing in dangerous and illegal products to New York and thus endangering the public.
Her office is also seeking to make the companies pay the state through an abatement fund that will help address New York’s rising gun violence.
Wednesday’s lawsuit was backed by large national organizations working to end gun violence, including Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords Law Center and March For Our Lives.
Nick Suplina, the senior vice president of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement that “New Yorkers have paid for the gun industry’s reckless, dangerous, and illegal business practices with their lives.”
“Now that we have the tools to hold rogue gun suppliers accountable, those days are drawing to a close,” Suplina said.
Separately on Wednesday, the city of New York sued five of the same companies — Arm or Ally, 80P Builder, Rockslide USA, Rainier Arms and Indie Guns — in federal court.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) said he was suing the manufacturers on similar claims over illegal ghost gun kits sold in the city.
“We are not going to let gun companies turn New York City into a city of mail-order murder,” said Adams in a statement.
— Updated at 3:47 pm