Suit Notes That Ghost Guns Represented Over 40% of Firearms Recovered as of 2020 in Los Angeles Area Crime Scene Investigations
And Cites Fact that Over 700 of the Ghost Guns LAPD Recovered in 2020 Were Composed of Polymer80 Parts
LOS ANGELES — A pair of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies wounded in a 2020 shooting have filed a state lawsuit against Polymer80, Inc., a Nevada-based company alleged to have sold a kit used to make the firearm used in the shooting, as well as kits used to build hundreds of other ghost guns recovered from crime scenes in Los Angeles. The lawsuit — which alleges the gun used to shoot the deputies was assembled from a kit sold in violation of federal and California gun laws requiring serial numbers and background checks — is the latest legal action against Polymer80, which is believed to be the largest seller of kits used to make self-assembled, unserialized firearms known as ghost guns.
The plaintiffs are represented by Everytown Law, the largest team of litigators in the U.S. working full-time on advancing gun violence prevention in the courts, and the California law firm Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. (The plaintiffs are represented in their individual capacities. Neither the L.A. County Sheriff or the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is a party to the lawsuit or represented by either law firm.)
The case is one of three cases in Southern California against the ghost guns industry that Everytown Law is involved with, along with a suit filed by a survivor of the Saugus High School shooting against a different ghost gun kits manufacturer (and also with the Walkup law firm) and a suit filed by the city of Los Angeles against Polymer80 (along with the law firm Quinn Emmanuel and the Los Angeles City Attorney).
“As this lawsuit alleges, Polymer80’s business practice of selling gun-building kits without background checks or serial numbers violates federal and state law and is negligent,” said Eric Tirschwell, managing director for Everytown Law. “Polymer80’s reckless practices, we allege, facilitated a person with a long felony criminal history being able to get his hands on an unserialized gun that he then used to shoot two sheriff’s deputies multiple times. Our clients know too well the damage that Polymer80’s ghost guns can cause, they’re far from the only people whose lives have been forever changed because of them, and they’re committed to holding the company accountable for its reckless business model.”
“We must hold ghost gun kit manufacturers liable when someone is killed or injured as a result of their reckless and illegal business practices,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Spencer Pahlke with the Walkup law firm. “These do-it-yourself gun kits allow anyone – including those looking to do harm – to build deadly weapons at home with no questions asked.”
The plaintiffs were each shot multiple times and wounded in a September 2020 shooting carried out with a Polymer80 handgun with no serial number. Neither has yet been able to return to work.
The shooter — who has a history of prior felony convictions that made it illegal for him to purchase or possess a firearm at the time of the shooting — is currently facing criminal charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and illegal possession of a firearm.
The suit includes two claims against Polymer80 — negligence and public nuisance — focusing on Polymer80’s marketing and sales practices and alleging that Polymer80’s actions facilitated and contributed to the shooting of the deputies. More specifically, the complaint alleges that Polymer80:
- sold the ghost gun kit used to build the gun used in the shooting of the deputies in violation of federal and state laws requiring serial numbers for traceability and background checks to confirm purchasers are not prohibited from owning a gun because of a felony conviction or other prohibiting history;
- knew its gun-building kits would be especially attractive to criminals because of the absence of serial numbers and background checks;
- failed to take reasonable steps to prevent guns built from its kits from ending up in the hands of persons prohibited by law from having guns, including the shooter; and
- created a direct and secondary market that put untraceable, no-background check guns in the hands of prohibited persons, foreseeably resulting in the use of its firearms in criminal acts, including the shooting of the plaintiffs.
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Polymer80 and Los Angeles
As alleged in the complaint:
- Polymer80, Inc. is a Nevada-based corporation that, according to public documents, has captured a very large percentage of the ghost gun kit and component market.
- Polymer80 is currently under criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, following a raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) of its headquarters in December 2020.
- Polymer80 has also been sued by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia for allegedly illegally selling ghost gun kits into Washington D.C..
- In line with dramatic nationwide increases, in recent years, ghost guns have represented over 40% of firearms recovered in Los Angeles area crime scene investigations, with over 700 of the ghost guns LAPD recovered in 2020 comprising Polymer80 parts.
- According to ATF, from 2016 to 2020 there were approximately 23,906 suspected privately made ghost guns reported to ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes, including 325 homicides or attempted homicides.
- The ATF has estimated that over 8700 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement nationwide in 2020 alone; ATF has also estimated that over 86% of the nearly 1,500 ghost guns entered into ATF’s national database in 2019 were made from Polymer80 components.
- Polymer80 shipped approximately 9,400 items to customers in California between January, 2019 and October, 2020, including at least 200 “Buy Build Shoot” kits containing all the parts needed to build fully functional untraceable guns.