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Re: Key Facts About Ghost Guns

April 8, 2021

This morning, President Joe Biden announced he is directing the U.S. Department of Justice to propose a rule, within 30 days, to stop the proliferation of deadly, untraceable ghost guns –– part of a slate of executive actions to help address increasing gun violence. 

Ghost guns are do-it-yourself, homemade guns with parts that can be purchased without a background check or a serial number –– and they have emerged as a weapon of choice for violent criminals, gun traffickers, dangerous extremists, and, generally, people legally prohibited from buying firearms. In a report last May, the Everytown Support Fund examined a sample of more than 100 federal prosecutions involving ghost guns, finding that ghost guns are easier to buy than ever before and are frequently possessed by those prohibited from owning firearms, tied to criminal activity, and used by white supremacists, convicted felons, and minors. A follow-up report issued in December found the online market for untraceable ghost guns has reached unprecedented levels during COVID-19, with dozens of these sellers reporting shipping delays due to “exceptionally high demand.”

Key moments in the effort to address the threat of ghost guns

November 2017: A gunman using a ghost gun kills five people and wounds 18 more in a mass shooting across multiple locations, including an elementary school, in Rancho Tehama, California.

September 2018: A gunman with a ghost gun shoots four people at the software company where he worked in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Throughout 2019: Law enforcement officials recover an estimated 10,000 ghost guns across the country, according to a recent ATF estimate.

November 2019: A student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California kills two classmates and wounds three others in a shooting with a ghost gun.

December 2019: Everytown files petition for rulemaking, urging ATF to address the growing menace of unregulated ghost guns.

May-June 2020: “boogaloo” movement members used a ghost gun to carry out premeditated attacks at the federal courthouse in Oakland and in Santa Cruz, CA, killing two law enforcement officers.

September 2020: A gunman with a ghost gun ambushes two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies, seriously wounding both. 

Throughout 2020: Los Angeles police recover more than 700 ghost guns made with parts from just one company, Polymer80.

August 2020: Five cities — Syracuse, NY, San Jose, CA, Chicago, IL, and Columbia, SC — join with Everytown to sue ATF over its failure to act on the threat posed by ghost guns and to correct its misinterpretation of federal law. Everytown Law represents the cities in the ongoing suit, which seeks a court order compelling the ATF to take action.

December 2020: Wall Street Journal reports the ATF has raided Polymer80, a gun-building kit manufacturer to whom ATF had previously given a green light to distribute its products, a decision challenged in the August 2020 lawsuit.

December 2020: As part of roadmap outlining ways the Biden-Harris administration can protect the public from gun violence, Everytown urges Biden Administration to act on threat of ghost guns

February 2021: Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer sues Polymer80, noting that over 700 of the ghost guns LAPD recovered in 2020 were made from Polymer80 parts. Everytown Law is co-counsel in the suit.

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