Jul 6, 2023 - News

Philadelphia files lawsuit to crack down on ghost guns

The use of untraceable ghost guns, pictured here, have becoming prolific in Philadelphia.

Ghost guns are prolific in Philly. Photo: Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Mayor Jim Kenney's administration is suing two companies that it says are among the largest ghost-gun suppliers in Philadelphia.

Why it matters: Ghost guns — which are untraceable, unregistered and privately assembled via a kit or with a 3D printer — are increasingly used in Philadelphia by people who cannot legally purchase firearms, officials said during a news conference Wednesday.

Driving the news: The city filed a lawsuit against Polymer80 and JSD Supply saying their "negligent" business practices have allowed ghost guns to flow into the city.

Yes, but: Officials were working on the lawsuit before the tragedy after several of Kenney's previous attempts to rein in gun violence faltered.

By the numbers: The city estimates about 10% of more than 6,000 crime guns seized last year were ghost guns, police officials said.

  • 87% of the ghost guns recovered in criminal investigations in 2023 were manufactured by Polymer80, per the city.

What they're saying: Philadelphia has "no greater priority" than addressing the proliferation of ghost guns on its streets, Kenney said, adding he cannot "sit idly" while waiting for state lawmakers to act.

Reality check: Kenney says lawmakers have "stood in [his] way" when he tried addressing gun violence.

  • Philadelphia has tried several times to overturn Pennsylvania's firearms preemption law that prevents cities from enacting their own gun regulations.
  • A judge cited the same law when striking an executive order issued by Kenney last year banning firearms from city recreation centers after a city employee was gunned down.

David Pucino of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which helped file the lawsuit, said the companies were trying to "mortgage our community's safety for their bottom line."

  • City officials didn't say how much they're seeking in damages from the lawsuit.

How it works: Buyers are able to get around state and federal firearm laws by purchasing gun-components kits sold by Polymer80 and JSD Supply, which they can use to assemble ghost guns at home, officials said.

Zoom out: In 2021, Los Angeles sued Nevada-based Polymer80 and later reached a $5 million settlement before the case went to trial.

  • The company agreed not to sell gun kits in California without serializing parts and performing background checks, per the Los Angeles Times.

The other side: JSD Supply declined Axios' request for comment while messages to Polymer80 went unreturned.


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