SF DA announces civil lawsuit against ghost gun manufacturers

‘It is not enough wait until after a crime has occurred involving a firearm’

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Wednesday his office has filed a civil lawsuit against three corporations accused of manufacturing and distributing unregistered guns, also known as “ghost guns.”

The suit alleges the business practice of defendants Blackhawk Manufacturing Group Inc., GS Performance LLC, and MDX Corporation violate state laws that prohibit fraudulent business practices and false advertising, Boudin’s office said.

Furthermore, the suit alleges the three California-based companies violate the federal Gun Control Act, as well as the state’s Firearms Law, which require background checks during firearm sales.

Ghost guns, which can be ordered online and assembled at home, continue to be a problem for law enforcement and prosecutors, as they don’t have serial numbers and cannot be traced.

Boudin described ghost guns as “arguably the most dangerous kind of gun that exist” during a briefing outside his office.

“Ghost guns are easily available on the internet and simply using YouTube videos, they can quickly be assembled using tools that many people have in their garage. One of my office inspectors was able to assemble a ghost gun kit in just 24 minutes,” he said. “In less than half an hour, a kit sold on the internet was a fully operational and highly lethal firearm.”

“It is not enough wait until after a crime has occurred involving a firearm,” he added. “It’s not enough to wait until after someone has been shot, maimed, or killed by a firearm. We must get at the root of the problem and this lawsuit with these partners is a critical step in this direction.”

For the suit, the District Attorney’s Office has partnered with the law firm Keker, Van Nest and Peters as well as the organization Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Even after so many murders have been committed with the products being sold by these defendants, the companies selling the parts to build them have doubled down on their unscrupulous and illegal business models,” Hannah Shearer, litigation director at Giffords Law Center, said. “Yet this whole time that ghost gun businesses have sought to operate with impunity, their customers have been the ones who risk prosecution.”

“We need accountability for the violence on our streets, but instead the laser light focus on shuffling Black and brown bodies into the violent carceral state, we need to identify and hold accountable the corporations and other entities that profit off of our death,” said Cat Brooks, community organizer and executive director of Justice Teams Network.

Just last month, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said the proliferation of ghost guns continues to play a role in a recent spike in gun violence citywide.

According to data from the San Francisco Police Department, the number of ghost guns seized in The City increased by an alarming 2,733 percent from 2016 to 2020. So far this year, police have confiscated more than 150 ghost guns.

The companies named in the suit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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