The District of Columbia is among the first local governments in the United States to win a major legal victory against one of the largest makers of so-called ghost guns.
The district used consumer laws to seek a $4 million fine against a company, Polymer80, permanently banning it from doing business in the capital for falsely telling customers the kits were legal in DC be
DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against Polymer80 in 2020 for violating consumer rights.
The lawsuit alleged that Polymer80’s website (which has since changed) falsely claimed that it was legal to purchase the company’s kits in the district. Racine’s office tracked 19 kits that had been sold to DC residents.
“The market for these guns is made up mostly of people who aren’t legally permitted to buy guns in the first place,” said Philip Bangle, senior litigation counsel for the DC-based Brady Gun Violence Prevention Group.
Polymer80 stopped selling sub-arms and gun sets in the district after the lawsuit was filed in 2020 and now has to pay.
News4 has requested comment on the court decision but has not yet received a response.
New federal rules on ghost weapons go into effect next week. You need serial numbers and a background check before a partial weapon or weapon set can be sold.
“To be honest, we’re a long way behind. We should have addressed this much earlier, but it’s important to get a handle on it now,” Bangle said.
The ATF calls the guns in question “privately manufactured firearms” assembled from parts ordered online. Local law enforcement call them ghost guns because they are untraceable and don’t need to have serial numbers.
DC police only recovered three ghost guns in 2017. That number has increased to 350 so far this year. The crimes to which they are bound often involve teenagers who are too young to legally buy guns.