Landmark Case Highlights the Growing Danger of Ghost Guns in the United States
LOS ANGELES — A California state court has rejected a motion from an online seller of kits and parts for homemade ghost guns — one of which was used in the 2019 mass shooting at Saugus High School — to dismiss a lawsuit brought by one of the survivors, ruling that her lawsuit properly alleged facts that supported her claims against the online seller and its owner.
The plaintiff, 16-year-old Mia Tretta, is represented by Everytown Law, the largest team of litigators working full-time on advancing gun safety in the U.S, and by Walkup, Melodia, Kelly and Schoenberger, a San-Francisco-based firm.
“Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to the answers we believe that Mia and her family deserve,” said Alla Lefkowitz, director of affirmative litigation for Everytown Law. “As we’ll continue to show the court, we believe this seller’s negligent sales practices contributed to the tragedy at Saugus High School and put Mia and the rest of the student body at risk, and we’re asking the court to hold it accountable for its actions.”
The rise of ghost guns is the fastest-growing gun safety problem in the United States. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates that thousands of such guns are being recovered on a yearly basis across the country. Ghost gun kits are often purchased by people who are prohibited from possessing firearms because of age, criminal history or a dangerous mental health history — people who are attracted by the ability to purchase these ghost guns without a background check and lacking serial numbers. In the case, the lawsuit alleges that the shooter’s father was able to order the handgun kit used in the mass shooting online from 1911builders.com with no background check, despite being prohibited from purchasing a firearm because of his dangerous mental health history.
- Everytown Law filed suit in December on behalf of Mia Tretta, who was wounded with a home-assembled firearm in the 2019 shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California high school. Two children were killed in the shooting, and three others were injured, including Mia, who was 15 at the time.
- The lawsuit names as a defendant the owner and operator of 1911builders, a website selling kits, frames, parts, and the tools to create a finished firearm over the internet with no background checks.
- The firearm used by the shooter was a 1911-style .45 caliber “Officer Frame” ghost gun. The seller named in the lawsuit sells this ghost gun kit on 1911builders, including the entire kit, tools, and videos necessary for its full home manufacture.
- Neither 1911builders nor its operator has a federal firearms license.
- The lawsuit alleges that 1911builders was negligent and has created a public nuisance. It asks the court to order the website to stop selling ghost gun frames, receivers or kits unless and until they are in compliance with state and federal law, and it also seeks damages.
- Discovery in the case is ongoing.