Gun control group files suit against ‘ghost gun’ manufacturers

Second Amendment

Brady United, one of the most high-profile gun control groups in the United States, filed lawsuits last week against a bevy of “ghost gun” manufacturers, accusing them of negligence, unfair marketing and more saying their products “undermined federal and state firearms laws.”

Cody Wilson, the managing director of Defense Distributed, who is named in the complaint, told Fox News that the litigation was “really light on factual allegations and evidence,” and that his company’s products have been “perfectly legal.”

“We shouldn’t have to say that those convicted of violent felonies and other people who are legally prohibited from possessing guns should not be able to possess guns,” Brady counsel Jonathan Lowy said in a statement about the suits, which were filed in state courts in Orange County, Calif., and San Bernandino County, Calif. “But some businesses put us all at risk by selling to virtually anyone DIY kits that can then be easily assembled into illegal, deadly, and untraceable assault weapons, all without a Brady background check or paper trail.”

The only individuals who should be held accountable for criminal acts are the criminal themselves. 

— Amy Hunter, NRA spokeswoman

Manufacturers of so-called “ghost guns” don’t actually sell firearms, which are regulated by both state and federal laws. Instead, they sell parts and kits for people to build their own guns for personal use, which is far less regulated. These are also called “80% percent kits,” meaning the receivers are 80% finished and require those buying the kits to do the finishing work themselves.  

Guns made by people for personal use also do not need to have a serial number, unlike guns manufactured for the purpose of being sold. 

There is a federal law that protects gun manufacturers from being sued over crimes committed with their products, but that law would not apply here, as technically “ghost gun” makers do not make firearms. The National Rifle Association said in a statement to Fox News that no companies, whether they are bona fide gun manufacturers or otherwise, should be responsible for crimes they did not tcommit. 

“The only individuals who should be held accountable for criminal acts are the criminal themselves,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said in a statement.  “It’s perfectly legal to make your own gun and it’s not regulated in this country, not regulated in the same way, of course. California has a different set of regulations, like if you make a gun in California, you have to tell the state about it. But again, I’m able to sell my stuff in California. It’s not illegal.”

But some businesses put us all at risk by selling to virtually anyone DIY kits that can then be easily assembled into illegal, deadly, and untraceable assault weapons, all without a Brady background check or paper trail.

— Jonathan Lowy, Brady United attorney

The Brady suits said, “an 80% receiver… is designed to fall just outside the definition of a ‘firearm’ so as to evade federally required background checks and other regulations applicable to ‘firearms.'”

The Brady suits charged, however, that selling such parts still violated state and federal firearm laws and could conceivably lead to criminals, killers and others getting guns. They also claimed the companies making “ghost guns” refused “to use reasonable safety measures that could have limited the risk of their products falling into the hands of such dangerous individuals.”

Specifically, the Brady suits were filed on behalf of a group of plaintiffs who were shot or whose loved ones were shot or killed with a “ghost gun,” by a man named Kevin Neal, who was barred from possessing firearms in California during a 2017 shooting spree. Neal’s mental health, NBC News reported, was deteriorating and he experienced hallucinations and delusions.


But, Wilson said perhaps the biggest flaw with the Brady cases was that they did not specifically link his company or any of the others mentioned to the actual shooting spree that affected the plaintiffs. 

“Right now, it’s not clear to me how he built that rifle, if he even bought a kit from any of the defendants at all. This litigation is meant more to be a, you know, activist,” Wilson said. “And, its purpose is to say that our industry overall is negligent and violates state and federal law, but none of that’s true. Our products are perfectly legal, they’re not firearms.”

Wilson added: “There’s a lot of material, intentional misstatements of law. And there’s not allegations of fact that any of the defendants did anything to enable the shooter to do what he did.”

Wilson said he’s a Second Amendment activist and believed his company has helped Americans practice their constitutionally protected rights. 

“For us it’s ideological, it’s political,” Wilson said. “I’m an actual activist myself. I believe in promoting peoples’ ability to make guns for themselves. I believe that’s a fundamental aspect of their freedom, if you’re an American citizen.”

He added: “You can buy a gun, sure … there’s channels to buy guns. But you also have 100% legal right to make a gun, and I think you should know how to do that because there’s lots of people like these people that for some reason don’t want you to be able to.”

Brady claimed its suits were among the first civil litigation brought against “ghost gun” makers in the U.S. But, there are also active federal suits against the U.S. government regarding its regulatory stance on “ghost guns,” including one led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whom President-elect Joe Biden announced as his pick for Health and Human Services secretary. 


“Ghost guns are untraceable weapons that have been used in mass shootings throughout the country and right here in California … We can’t afford to wait for another tragedy to happen before we take action,” Becerra said in September. “It’s time for ATF to prioritize the safety of our communities by calling these products what they are: firearms, and regulating them accordingly.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms last week also raided a “ghost gun” company based in Nevada after determining that one of its products did, in fact, meet the definition of a “firearm,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

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