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NEW: Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts Calls on Credit Card Companies to Refuse to Process Illegal Ghost Gun Sales

January 11, 2021

Amid a surge in untraceable ghost guns being recovered in U.S. cities, Moms Demand Founder Shannon Watts is calling on credit card companies to refuse to process illegal online ghost gun kit sales, citing recent action by Visa and MasterCard over reported illegal content on the website Pornhub as precedent. A ghost gun is a do-it-yourself, homemade gun made from easy-to-get, unregulated building blocks.

In a new Op-Ed for Business Insider, she writes today that:

Dozens of websites that advertise Polymer80’s ghost gun kits and similar all-in-one products  accept MasterCard, Visa and American Express. But if these companies were to block illegal ghost gun transactions, many manufacturers would likely find themselves out of business. That’s why we need credit card companies to stand with us and save lives.

Fortunately, there is a clear roadmap for them to do so. After the New York Times reported this month that the adult website Pornhub contained videos depicting illegal acts, Visa and MasterCard announced that they would no longer allow the use of their credit cards on the site, citing company policies that block unlawful transactions.

Now that the ATF has confirmed that ghost gun websites are breaking the law when they sell all-in-one kits without serial numbers and background checks, credit card companies can act on this one, too, and refuse to play any part in these illegal transactions.

Read the full Op-Ed here.

Ghost guns are made by an individual, not a federally licensed manufacturer or importer. Ghost guns are the fastest-growing gun safety problem facing our country.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided the premises of Polymer80, an industry-leading ghost gun manufacturer responsible for a flood of ghost guns that is being used to commit crimes in rapidly increasing numbers in cities across America. The raid comes just weeks before ATF is scheduled to answer to an Everytown Law lawsuit seeking to overturn ATF’s prior flawed approach to ghost guns and compel the agency to act to regulate them.

Everytown Law first urged ATF to address the growing menace of unregulated ghost guns in a petition for rulemaking filed back in December 2019, and followed that up with its lawsuit against ATF filed in August 2020.  The lawsuit — brought on behalf of Everytown as well as Syracuse, NY; San Jose, CA; Chicago, IL; and Columbia, SC, with the assistance of the law firm Cooley, LLP — specifically challenged three letters that ATF had issued to Polymer80 in 2015 and 2017, which the company was using on its website to claim its gun kits were legal and did not require serial numbers or background checks.  

In court papers filed in the suit, Everytown Law has highlighted that:

  • Ghost guns are being recovered in cities across the country in exponentially increasing numbers, with Polymer80 ghost guns being by far the most common ghost gun make that law enforcement is recovering in multiple cities;
  • Polymer80 ghost guns constituted 90% of all ghost guns recovered in recent years in Syracuse, New York, and over 80% of ghost guns recovered recently in Washington, D.C.;
  • Polymer80 ghost guns have been used in at least five shootings in Chicago, IL; 
  • Ghost guns have been recovered in nine homicide investigations in San Jose, CA, and San Jose police have recovered at least 12 firearms made from Polymer80 kits

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