Polymer80 is by Far the Largest Source of Ghost Guns Used in Crimes and Recovered by Law Enforcement
Letter: Polymer80 “Repeatedly and Willfully Violated Federal Gun Laws,” “Presents a Clear and Present Danger to Public Safety
NEW YORK – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and New York City sent a letter calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to revoke the federal firearms license of Polymer80, the nation’s largest manufacturer of kits used to build homemade ghost guns, for repeated willful violations of federal gun laws. Polymer80 is a Nevada company that public information indicates is by far the largest source of ghost guns used in crimes and recovered by law enforcement nationally and in a number of major cities. The letter comes after President Joe Biden’s April announcement that ATF finalized a new ghost guns rule, which confirms that gun-building kits and their core components are subject to the same firearms regulations as fully functional firearms – including the requirements of serialization and background checks when sold by a federal firearms licensee.
“Ghost guns are a dream come true for criminals, so it should come as little surprise that Polymer80, the largest maker of these untraceable weapons, has shipped its deadly goods to felons,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Now that President Biden has taken action against ghost guns, it’s time for ATF to do its job and shut down Polymer80.”
“We must get ghost guns out of our communities, and those that manufacture them must be shut down,” said Mayor Adams. “Polymer80’s entire business operation presents a clear and present danger to public safety through New York and the entire country — not only selling guns, but marketing an entire lifestyle brand that celebrates violence and lawlessness. As mayor of the largest city in America, a former police officer, and co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, I have a message for Polymer80: We will not surrender our city to a violent few. No one is above the law. And the law is coming for you.”
“Ghost guns are the fastest-growing gun safety threat in the nation, and Polymer80 leads the pack in flooding our streets with these deadly, untraceable firearms,” said Nick Suplina, senior vice president of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “This manufacturer has operated with impunity for far too long. The ATF should shut down Polymer80 now and put an end to this clear and present danger to public safety.”
Today’s letter cites substantial evidence of the connection between Polymer80’s reckless business practices and gun violence in communities across the country. For example, the number of untraceable ghost guns recovered by the LAPD saw a leap from 813 recoveries in 2020 to 1,921 recoveries in 2021 – and of those 1,921, Polymer80 supplied 90% of them. ATF has previously disclosed that over 86% of the 1,475 privately made firearms (aka ghost guns) entered into its National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (“NIBIN”) database in 2019 were made from Polymer80 parts. Other cities such as Washington, D.C. and Syracuse, N.Y. have similarly reported that ghost guns built with Polymer80 kits and parts comprise the vast majority of such weapons recovered by their police departments in recent years. And Polymer80 ghost guns continue to be recovered in connection with shootings and other crimes in cities across the country. Just recently, for example, law enforcement recovered a Polymer80 9mm handgun in connection with the shooting death of a 16-year old girl in the Bronx.
The letter also cites evidence from the agency’s own search warrant application of numerous examples of Polymer80 violating federal firearms laws. As outlined in that application, Polymer80 never affixed serial numbers to the frames sold as part of its Buy Build Shoot kits and failed to run background checks on purchasers of these kits – despite the ATF Chief Counsel’s determination that those all-inclusive kits are firearms and require serialization and background checks. Additionally, even though ATF has also concluded that the Buy Build Shoot kits are handguns under federal law, there is no indication that Polymer80 ever included storage or safety devices with these kits that it sold, in apparent violation of the Child Safety Lock Act of 2005. Polymer80 also allegedly sold Buy Build Shoot ghost gun kits to minors and felons, and broke California law by allegedly shipping illegal large-capacity magazines into the state.
Polymer80 is currently facing numerous lawsuits for its alleged contributions to gun violence. Two Los Angeles sheriffs’ deputies who were shot and wounded with a Polymer80 ghost gun are suing the manufacturer, as is the city of Los Angeles. Polymer80 is also being sued by the Washington, D.C. Attorney General.
Earlier this month, President Biden announced the finalization of the new ghost guns rule at a Rose Garden ceremony where he was introduced by Mia Tretta, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action and a gun violence survivor who was shot and wounded with a ghost gun in a school shooting in 2019. Tretta also is suing a different kit manufacturer of the ghost gun used to shoot her and kill two of her classmates and wound three others.
ATF estimates that approximately 45,000 ghost guns have been recovered at crime scenes since 2016, with more than 19,000 ghost guns being recovered in 2021 alone. Local law enforcement agencies are also seeing staggering increases in rates of recovery — rising as much as 100 percent in the last three years in places like San Diego and Los Angeles. Other communities have seen significant ghost gun recoveries, with sharp increases in the past year. In Philadelphia, the police reported recovering 571 ghost guns, compared to 95 in 2019 and 250 in 2020. Public information ties ghost guns to scores of shootings across the country. Ghost guns have also been weapons of choice for militant right-wing extremists and people who otherwise would not be able to pass a background check. In recent months, the country has also seen an increase of gun fire on school grounds with ghost guns and recoveries of ghost guns on campuses. Schools in Arizona, New Mexico, Maryland, and Kansas have been devastated with these instances of gun fire on school grounds – highlighting a scary trend and another important reason to regulate these guns.