By STEVE BITTENBENDER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — New York state and New York City officials on Wednesday filed separate lawsuits against businesses they claim sold parts for guns to residents who used them to create untraceable weapons.
The lawsuits come less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a state law that required gun owners to demonstrate a need for them to get a license allowing them to carry their weapons in public.
State Attorney General Letitia James filed suit against 10 companies in a Manhattan court Tuesday. Investigators in her office found thousands of gun frames and receivers were sent to New Yorkers. Those parts can be used to create guns that do not have serial numbers, giving them the nickname “ghost guns.”
In a statement, Attorney General James said selling such parts violates local, state and federal laws. Further, the companies are not conducting background checks on purchasers, meaning that felons or others who are not allowed to purchase guns legally can acquire weapons through these distributors.
The number of “ghost guns” found at crime scenes has risen dramatically in less than six years, according to Ms. James’ office. Nationally, more than 19,000 were found last year, an 11-fold increase from 2016. In New York City, the number went from 44 in 2018 to 641 last year, and officials project more than 800 will be recovered there this year.
That would be a five-year increase of more than 1,700%.
“While families mourned loved ones lost to senseless gun violence, gun sellers avoided accountability for the illegal and dangerous weapons they sold,” Attorney General James said. “There should be no more immunity for gun distributors bringing harm and havoc to New York.”
Ms. James said she seeks to use a recently passed public nuisance law against the distributors and wants the companies to pay into a fund that would be used to address the state’s “gun violence crisis.”
The companies named in the state suit are Brownells, Inc.; Blackhawk Manufacturing Group; Salvo Technologies, Inc.; G.S. Performance, LLC; Indie Guns, LLC; Primary Arms, LLC; Arm or Ally, LLC; Rainier Arms, LLC, KM Tactical LLC; and Rock Slide USA, LLC.
Arm or Ally, Salvo Technologies, Rock Slide, Rainier and Indie Guns are also the targets of a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by New York City officials. Those five companies, the city alleges, shipped gun kits to an undercover city sheriff’s investigator.
City officials are also seeking an injunction against the companies that would prohibit the out-of-state companies from selling the parts to make ghost guns to New York City residents. The city also wants a judge to compel the companies to provide contact information for the New Yorkers who have received parts.
“Whether they are hidden in the trunks of cars or packed in a plain brown box, ghost guns are illegal in our city, and we will take every lawful action possible to stop gun retailers from profiting at the expense of the safety of our city,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.