Last month President Biden announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a final rule to rein in the proliferation of “ghost guns” – unserialized, privately-made firearms that law enforcement officers are increasingly recovering at crime scenes in cities across the country. One of our clients introduced President Biden at the White House announcement of this important new rule. Three of our partners are involved in the fight to put the makers of these untraceable firearms out of business.
Last year alone, there were approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to the ATF as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations. Because ghost guns lack the serial numbers marked on other firearms, law enforcement has an exceedingly difficult time tracing a ghost gun found at a crime scene back to an individual purchaser.
This final rule bans the business of manufacturing the most accessible ghost guns, including unserialized “buy build shoot” kits that can be bought online or at a store without a background check, and can be easily assembled into a working firearm in as little as 30 minutes. The new rule clarifies that these kits qualify as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act, and that commercial manufacturers of such kits must therefore become licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame.
Rich Schoenberger, Spencer Pahlke, and Sara Peters filed Walkup’s first case against a ghost gun kit seller, 1911 Builders, two years ago. That case arose out of a tragic 2019 school shooting at Santa Clarita High School which left two dead and three injured. Our client – a freshman at the time – was shot in the stomach and her best friend was killed. The shooter was a fellow student who took his own life after opening fire on his classmates. He obtained the gun from his father who was legally prohibited from possessing firearms, but who had purchased a gun kit through the 1911 Builders website.
In 2021, Rich, Spencer, and Sara filed their second ghost gun case, this time against the largest ghost gun manufacturer in the industry, Polymer80. Our clients are two Los Angeles County sheriff deputies who were shot multiple times, including in the face. The shooter was a felon who gained possession of a Polymer80 ghost gun.
Walkup is working on these cases in partnership with Everytown Law – the largest group of litigators devoted to advancing gun safety nationwide. Through both of these cases, Walkup and Everytown are demanding money damages in excess of these companies’ insurance coverage, jeopardizing their ability to obtain insurance and to stay in business.
We are heartened that the Biden Administration is paying attention. We look forward to getting these illegal firearms off the street.Walkup-Focus-Proof-13-052422