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News / Nation & World

LAPD found 700 ‘ghost guns’ — now it is getting $5 million

By Christian Martinez, Los Angeles Times
Published: June 4, 2023, 6:00am

In 2020, over the course of numerous investigations, the Los Angeles Police Department recovered more than 700 “ghost guns” — weapons often having no serial numbers and built from components sold without background checks by Nevada-based company Polymer80, according to the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

Firearms assembled from the company’s components were used in the ambush of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Compton in 2020 and in a home invasion and triple murder in Glendale, the city attorney said.

In 2021, Los Angeles filed suit against Polymer80, alleging that the company was selling its kits without conducting background checks, a violation of the federal Gun Control Act.

The kits allow purchasers to buy gun components that are then assembled by buyers.

Now, the company has settled the suit with the city for $5 million and must conform to multiple gun sales standards.

“This settlement holds Polymer80 and its founders accountable, keeps guns out of the hands of prohibited people, makes L.A. neighborhoods safer and will help law enforcement do their jobs,” City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto said Tuesday in a news release. “This is an important step toward preventing unnecessary deaths, especially as Congress repeatedly fails to take action.”

It is not the first time that Polymer80 has been sued over its products.

Last year, Washington, D.C., received a $4-million judgment against the company, which was also barred from selling untraceable firearms in the district. Polymer80 informs customers of the ruling on its website.

The company’s guns were the most common ghost guns recovered by the Los Angeles Police Department between 2020 and 2023, the city attorney’s office said.

The lawsuit was set to go to trial Tuesday, but the company settled instead.

The lawsuit also alleged that Polymer80 misled customers in its advertising by stating that its products were legal to buy and possess because they were not complete firearms.

“But Polymer80’s core products — gun building kits that are quickly and easily assembled into operable weapons — nonetheless fall under the definition of ‘firearm’ under federal law,” the city attorney’s office wrote in its complaint.

As part of the settlement, Polymer80 must pay $4 million in civil penalties, while its two founders must pay a combined $1 million.

Additionally, Polymer80 is prohibited from selling gun kits in the state without serializing parts and performing background checks.

The company is also prohibited from providing assistance to customers attempting to assemble ghost guns in California and cannot advertise that its products are legal.

Polymer80 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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