Nation’s Largest Gun Safety Group Renews Calls For Executive Action To Halt This Growing Threat Nationwide
NEWARK, N.J. — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and the New Jersey chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown’s grassroots networks, applauded New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal after he announced a settlement with a California-based ghost gun distributor that will bar the company from advertising or selling untraceable ghost guns in New Jersey.
“Ghost guns pose a threat to everyone living in New Jersey, and Attorney General Grewal’s leadership will make us safer,” said Jenifer Berrier Gonzalez, a volunteer with the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The Attorney General recognized early on that these weapons were more than just a passing fad or novelty, and he’s been a leader on this issue ever since.”
“The rising threat that ghost guns pose to public safety demands urgent action, and Attorney General Grewal is responding forcefully to this crisis,” said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “More can be done, particularly at the federal level, and it’s time for the Biden administration to support local officials like Attorney General Grewal and use ATF’s existing authority to properly regulate ghost guns nationwide.”
In November 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation making it illegal to purchase parts to manufacture ghost guns. Subsequently, in December, Attorney General Grewal “sent cease-and-desist letters to ghost gun companies across the country, ordering them to stop advertising and selling their products to New Jersey buyers and promising to sue any that failed to comply,” and 15 companies agreed to block all sales in New Jersey. A joint investigation by the Attorney General and the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs identified the California-based distributor who continued to sell ghost guns in New Jersey in violation of state law. The Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the company, which resulted in this settlement.
Right now, the Biden administration can take action on the rising threat of ghost guns and support local officials like Attorney General Grewal and keep these untraceable guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Unfinished frames and receivers are the core building blocks for untraceable ghost guns, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has failed to regulate unfinished frames and receivers that are easily converted into operational firearms, so the building blocks can be acquired without a background check and the ghost guns created with these building blocks do not have serial numbers and cannot be traced. With executive action, the administration can shut down the no-questions-asked marketplace for ghost gun parts and kits by directing ATF to ensure our gun laws cover all firearms, including the core parts and kits used to build untraceable ghost guns. Companies engaged in the business of selling these parts and kits would need to get a federal license, put serial numbers on the products, and conduct background checks on buyers – the same process as for those who are engaged in the business of selling any other firearm.
Today’s announcement comes amidst a swell of increasing action that local officials are taking against ghost guns. Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a new agreement to stop the sale of unfinished frames and receivers at gun shows operated by the state’s largest gun show promoter. Last month, Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer and Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, announced a lawsuit against the Nevada-based Polymer80—exactly the make of ghost guns confiscated in Philadelphia on March 8. In line with a nationwide increase, in recent years, ghost guns have represented over 40% of firearms recovered in Los Angeles area crime scene investigations.
As cities have made clear in a lawsuit against ATF seeking regulation of ghost guns, untraceable guns are being recovered in cities across the country in exponentially increasing numbers.
The surge in untraceable ghost guns is a problem that federal regulators can solve, but because they haven’t yet, cities and states are left to deal with the consequences. The current lack of regulation and enforcement enables gun traffickers and people who are prohibited from owning firearms, like minors, convicted domestic abusers and those with violent criminal histories, to acquire all the parts necessary to build an untraceable firearm with no background check.