The anti-gun group Brady United has brought two first-of-their-kind civil lawsuits against 13 defendants that manufacture and sell “ghost guns,” the outfit announced this week. The defendants are being accused of negligence, public nuisance and violation of business codes.
Brady is representing families of victims killed in a 2017 mass murder in California that left six people dead, including the killer, Kevin Neal. Neal allegedly used a “ghost gun” he built at home to commit the crime, despite being ordered by a judge to surrender all his weapons as part of a restraining order.
The suit argues that the defendants knew when they started their businesses that they would be supplying firearms to “criminals, killers, and others whose possession of firearms pose an unacceptably high threat of injury or death to others.”
The suit also uses a line of attack leveled against other gun companies by claiming their marketing materials “intentionally targeted prohibited persons and other dangerous individuals like Neal. Such tactics and practices were unfair, immoral, unethical, oppressive, and unscrupulous.”
“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. 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,” said Brady Legal Chief Counsel and co-counsel for the plaintiffs, Jonathan Lowy.
Cody Wilson, the director of Ghost Gunner Inc., one of the defendants, called the suits “low effort attempts to confuse the public and frustrate the lawful purpose of making your own firearms in California,” according to Claims Journal.
The cases were filed in Superior Court of Orange County and San Bernardino County.
Plaintiffs are asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“Companies who evade state and federal gun safety laws in order to market gun kits to people who cannot lawfully buy or possess guns in California should face liability for their negligence,” said Brady co-counsel Amy Van Zant.
“Ghost guns” refer to firearms that can be manufactured at home from “80-percent” lowers or receivers. The ATF does not consider these receivers to be firearms because the products require special skills and tools to be turned into functioning parts. Manufacturing firearms for private use has been legal throughout the history of the United States.
There appears to be a coordinated attack against “ghost guns” by groups like Brady and Everytown for Gun Safety.
Just this year, California sued the ATF in September for its ghost gun policy, Hawaii banned ghost guns a week before, and Everytown filed a lawsuit in August asking the ATF to ban ghost gun possession. In July, a U.S. congressman filed a bill banning ghost gun milling machines. In June, Washington, D.C., sued popular 80-percent receiver manufacturer Polymer-80, and Rhode Island banned ghost guns the same month.