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Baltimore Files Lawsuit Against Ghost Gun Maker and Gun Shop

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Baltimore on Wednesday sued one of the nation’s largest ‘ghost gun’ makers, seeking unspecified damages for its alleged role in ‘flooding’ the city with illegal weapons and for ‘injuries and trauma that these weapons have caused.

The lawsuit, filed in city circuit court against Nevada-based Polymer80 and Hanover Armory, an Anne Arundel County gun store, represents the city’s efforts to use every tool available to address a worsening public health crisis, Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said. .

“Withdrawals are not enough. Legislation is not enough,” Scott said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We must crack down on corporations that profit from the destruction and death in our communities.”

A Polymer80 spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A person answering the phone at Hanover Armory would not answer questions. City attorneys accuse Hanover Armory in the suit of regularly selling Polymer80 gun kits in Maryland without determining whether customers are prohibited from owning a gun.

The lawsuit, similar to those filed by the District and Los Angeles, does not specify how much the city is seeking in punitive and compensatory damages. City attorney James L. Shea said the amount would be “very substantial” and officials are still working on an estimate. Shea said the amount would encompass “societal issues that are being created, right down to cleaning up the mess that Polymer80 has created here in the city.”

The lawsuit, which was filed the same day a state law prohibiting the sale, transfer and receipt of untraceable firearms took effect, was filed by the Litigation Division. city ​​affirmative in the Department of Law, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Sanford Heisler Sharp, a national public interest law firm.

The lawsuit also comes days after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, a mass shooting that again raised questions about the country’s gun control laws. countries and how to prevent armed violence.

The lawsuit alleges that Polymer80 intentionally undermines federal and state gun laws by designing, manufacturing and supplying ghost gun kits and parts — which lack serial numbers, making them nearly impossible to trace — to people who do not undergo background checks.

“Polymer80’s core market is those who want to evade law enforcement or who can’t get a gun from a [federal firearms licensee]including underage buyers, criminally convicted buyers and firearms traffickers,” the lawsuit states.

City officials said ghost guns, which are sold in parts and can be assembled at home, account for 19% of all guns recovered so far this year by Baltimore police and 91% of these seized ghost guns were made by Polymer80. No Ghost Weapons were recovered in 2018; three years later, police seized 352 ghost guns. In the first five months of 2022, 187 people were recovered, authorities said, exceeding last year’s rate.

According to the lawsuit, Baltimore police linked 32 of 352 phantom guns recovered last year to a homicide or shooting. Dante Barksdale, an outreach worker with the Safe Streets Baltimore program and one of more than 300 homicides in the city last year, was shot nine times with an unserialized Polymer80 handgun, the lawsuit says. Teenagers as young as 14 have been arrested for possession. Nearly a quarter of ghost guns recovered were in the possession of people under 21, the legal age to own a firearm in Maryland.

“I have said many times that firearms that do not have a serial number and/or registration have no place in our city and, dare I say it, in the United States of America. America,” Scott said. “It shouldn’t be easier for me to buy a ghost gun than to buy my allergy medicine at CVS or go buy a used car. If a young person can’t drink or buy liquor at a liquor store, if they can’t rent a car, they shouldn’t be able to go online and buy a ghost gun.

Under the new state law, the definition of a firearm is expanded to include “an unfinished frame or receiver.” A dealer can be charged with a felony and lose their license if, among other things, they “knowingly or willfully manufactured, offered to sell, or sold a handgun that is not listed as a handgun.”

Anyone who sells or transfers a ghost gun faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Starting in March, when the second phase of the law takes effect, a person who possesses a ghost weapon can face two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.