Everytown Has Led the Charge Against Ghost Guns Since 2019
Everytown Petitioned ATF to Address Growing Threat and Then Sued Agency Over Inaction, Filed Multiple Lawsuits Against Ghost Guns Sellers, Testified Before A U.S. Senate Panel, Pushed for Rule Finalization, and Supported State Legislation; Full Timeline at Bottom
WASHINGTON — Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements as the Biden-Harris Administration’s federal ghost guns rule goes into effect today. The rule, which now carries the force of law, updates the definitions of “firearm” and “frame or receiver” to cover kits and components easily assembled into untraceable ghost guns.
“Untraceable ghost guns have been a dream come true for criminals and a nightmare for law enforcement, but with this new rule our nation is finally waking up to the threat they pose,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Ghost guns look like a gun, shoot like a gun, and kill like a gun, and they will now be regulated like conventional guns, thanks to bold leadership from the Biden-Harris Administration.”
“The days of ghost gun manufacturers selling untraceable firearms to prohibited purchasers – including criminals and children – no questions asked, have finally come to an end,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “This life-saving rule is a major victory for the grassroots gun violence prevention movement and we’re grateful for the strong leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration in addressing this deadly threat.”
Today’s rule going into effect comes after Everytown has led the charge to urge action on this deadly threat. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and Everytown supporters drove nearly 100,000 comments in support of the proposed rule on ghost guns, which are one of the fastest growing threats to gun safety in the country and allow people who shouldn’t have guns to easily purchase parts and assemble them at home in a matter of hours without a background check.
ATF estimates that nearly 45,000 ghost guns have been recovered at crime scenes since 2016, and local law enforcement agencies are seeing staggering increases in rates of recovery — rising as much as 100 percent in the last three years in places like San Diego and Los Angeles. Other communities have seen significant ghost gun recoveries, with sharp increases in the past year. According to the LAPD, the department recovered 1,921 ghost guns in 2021, more than double the 813 ghost guns recovered in 2020. In Philadelphia, the police reported recovering 571 ghost guns, compared to 95 in 2019 and 250 in 2020. Ghost guns have also been weapons of choice for militant right-wing extremists and people who otherwise would not be able to pass a background check. In recent months, the country has also seen an increase of gunfire on school grounds with ghost guns and recoveries of ghost guns on campuses. Schools in Arizona, New Mexico, Maryland, and Kansas have been devastated with these instances of gunfire on school grounds – highlighting a scary trend and another important reason to regulate these guns.
Everytown has compiled examples of ghost gun shootings from across the country since 2013, available here. Everytown’s report on ghost guns, featuring testimonials from law enforcement officers, can be found here.
Everytown has been on the forefront of the fight against ghost guns. In December of 2019, Everytown filed a petition for rulemaking, urging the ATF to address the rising threat posed by ghost guns. In August 2020, after the ATF failed to undertake the rulemaking requested by the petition, Everytown, joined by the cities of Syracuse, New York, San Jose, Chicago, and Columbia, sued the ATF to compel the agency to correct its misinterpretation of federal law that had allowed the ghost gun threat to emerge.
The ATF first proposed the rule in May 2021 as part of a slate of executive actions announced by President Joe Biden to curb gun violence.
For years, Everytown has worked in the legal, regulatory, and grassroots arenas to push for action on ghost guns, including taking the following steps:
- December 2019: Everytown files a petition for rulemaking, urging the ATF to address the growing menace of ghost guns.
- May 2020: Everytown releases groundbreaking original research on ghost guns, including an analysis of more than 100 federal prosecutions involving ghost guns that showed ghost guns are connected to violent criminal enterprises, gun trafficking rings, and far-right extremists.
- August 2020: In the first lawsuit over the regulatory failure on ghost guns, Everytown and four cities (Columbia, Syracuse, Chicago, and San Jose) sue the 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 has been on hold pending the ATF’s final rule and seeks a court order overturning prior erroneous determinations and compelling the ATF to take action.
- December 2020: As part of a roadmap outlining ways the Biden-Harris Administration can protect the public from gun violence, Everytown urges the Administration to act on the threat of ghost guns.
- December 2020: Everytown sues a website selling ghost guns kits and parts on behalf of Mia Tretta, who was wounded with a ghost gun in the 2019 shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California.
- February 2021: With Everytown serving as co-counsel, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer sues Polymer80 on behalf of the people of California, noting that over 700 of the ghost guns LAPD recovered in 2020 were made from Polymer80 parts.
- May 2021: Nick Suplina, Everytown’s senior vice president for law and policy, testifies before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on the threat posed by ghost guns.
- August 2021: Everytown files a comment letter in support of the proposed rulemaking. Everytown and Moms Demand Action drive nearly 100,000 comments in support of ATF’s proposed ghost guns rule.
- August 2021: Everytown sues Polymer80 on behalf of two L.A. county sheriff’s deputies wounded in a 2020 ghost gun shooting.
- April 2022: Everytown ran digital ads on the home pages of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal calling on the ATF to finalize the proposed ghost gun rule.
- April 2022: President Biden announces finalization of ghost guns rule, and is introduced in the Rose Garden by Mia Tretta
Everytown, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action have also advocated for state-level regulation of ghost guns: Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers have been on the ground at statehouses urging state lawmakers to act and have been pivotal to the passage of laws to regulate ghost guns in almost every state they’ve passed, most recently in Maryland. 10 states and D.C. now have laws on the books to regulate ghost guns.