LOS ANGELES — A Nevada-based ghost gun manufacturer is prohibited from selling gun kits in California, Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto announced Tuesday. Under the terms of a settlement the city reached in a lawsuit against Polymer80, the company must conduct background checks on buyers, place serial numbers on its products and pay $4 million in civil penalties. Its founders are also required to pay $1 million in additional civil penalties.
“This settlement holds Polymer80 and its founders accountable, keeps guns out of the hands of prohibited people, makes LA neighborhoods safer and will help law enforcement do their jobs,” Feldstein Soto said in a statement.
Ghost guns are untraceable, unregistered firearms put together by private individuals using so-called buy build shoot kits. Between January 2020 and Feb. 2, 2023, the Los Angeles Police Department recovered more than 4,200 ghost guns made by Polymer80, whose kits can be assembled into fully functioning weapons in about an hour. Polymer80 ghost guns are the most common ghost guns LAPD recovered during that time frame.
Former City Attorney Mike Feuer filed the lawsuit against Polymer80 in February 2021, saying that the company’s gun kit sales violated the federal Gun Control Act and California gun laws. Without conducting background checks, the lawsuit said the products were easily purchased by people who are not legally allowed to own guns because of their mental health status or criminal background.
Citing a 130% increase in ghost gun recoveries between 2020 and late 2022, the LAPD in November became the first police department in the country to offer $500 cash rewards for information that leads to evidence of ghost gun manufacturing and trafficking activity.
The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms is also expanding its investigations into ghost guns. Last year, the Bureau seized 54 ghost guns from individuals in the state’s Armed and Prohibited Persons Systems database of people who are legally prohibited from owning firearms. A 38% increase compared with 2021, the DOJ said, “illegal ghost guns remain a persistent threat to public safety.”
While California has some of the toughest gun violence prevention laws in the country and one of the lowest firearm death rates in the country, more than 3,500 people died from gun violence in the state in 2021, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.