In a first of its kind lawsuit, New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing 10 ghost gun dealers for allegedly selling tens of thousands of illegal and untraceable “ghost guns” that she says are contributing to a rise in shootings.
The seizure of ghost guns — firearms assembled from kits that are often sold online — have skyrocketed in recent years. The NYPD has seized 180 ghost guns so far this year, almost double the amount compared to the same period last year.
One of the ghost guns was responsible for killing 16-year-old Angellyh Yambo, who was shot in April while walking home from school, officials said.
“These products have claimed many lives and perhaps most disturbing, they’re unknowingly and intentionally selling these weapons to anyone and everyone without care,” James said at a press conference at Manhattan Community College on Wednesday. “We are committed to combating this violence.”
The attorney general was joined by Mayor Eric Adams, who announced the city was filing its own lawsuit in federal court against five of the ghost gun distributors the state is suing.
“We are not going to let gun companies turn New York into a city of mail-ordered murder,” Adams said. ”We will take every lawful action possible to stop gun retailers from profiting over public safety.”
We are not going to let gun companies turn New York into a city of mail-ordered murder
The lawsuits come six days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a century-old law in New York that limited the ability to carry a gun in public, making it easier for licensed owners to bring concealed handguns into public spaces.
New York state lawmakers are returning to Albany on Thursday for a special session to take up a package of gun-control bills in response to the Supreme Court ruling. James said her office has reviewed and supports the gun legislation proposed by state lawmakers.
This is the first time the attorney general’s office is using the state’s public nuisance law to sue companies. The state lawsuit also seeks to require each business to contribute to a fund to eliminate the public nuisance the companies are accused of causing in exacerbating gun violence in New York.
Both the city and state are seeking injunctions to temporarily halt the dealers from selling ghost guns while the cases are being heard.
According to James, gun components are typically sold directly to consumers for around $200 without background checks and are often sold to people who are legally banned from purchasing firearms from licensed retailers.
The state lawsuit was filed in New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan and names 10 gun distributors as defendants: Brownells Inc., Blackhawk Manufacturing Group, G.S. Performance, Primary Arms, KM Tactical, Arm or Ally; Rainier Arms, 80P Builder or Salvo Technologies, Rock Slide USA, Indie Guns.
The latter five companies are the ones named in the city’s lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
None of the companies immediately responded to a request for comment.
Delaware, New Jersey and California are among the other states that are considering enacting a public nuisance law to help hold gun distributors accountable, according to Nick Suplina, senior vice president of law and policy for the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Yanelly Henriquez, the mother of the Bronx teen who was killed by a ghost gun, was among those who attended the press conference and accused the ghost gun companies of profiting off her daughter’s death.
“I desperately wish I could turn back the hand of time to bring my daughter Angellyh back,” she said, holding back tears. “But that’s unrealistic.”