The fight to crack down on so-called “ghost gun” distributors got a victory in court on Wednesday.
Polymer80, a Nevada-based unfinished firearm parts manufacturer, was found to have “falsely and misleadingly” advertised “illegal firearms” by a District of Columbia judge. As a result, the company has been permanently blocked from advertising and selling its products to D.C. residents and has been ordered to pay over $4 million in civil damages.
“Polymer80 violated District law by selling firearms to District consumers without the requisite licenses, and failing to comply with the series of restrictions and requirements the District imposes on licensees,” Judge Ebony Scott’s order reads. “Additionally, Polymer80’s firearms violated District law because the firearms were not registered and failed to have an identification number or serial number.”
Though Polymer80 is not in the business of selling completed, operable firearms, it does sell unfinished firearm parts. The case centered around the company’s previous efforts to sell those unfinished parts alongside the tools needed to finish them in “Buy. Build. Shoot.” kits. Attorneys for the District argued that such kits are the same as regular firearms because they can be “readily converted to fully functioning firearms,” a standard outlined under D.C.’s Firearm Control Regulations Act of 1975. Judge Scott sided with the District.
The lawsuit deals a blow to do-it-yourself firearms parts sellers. As major population centers across the country continue to regulate and restrict unserialized firearms and firearm parts, Wednesday’s judgment could chill the market for online sales of unfinished frames and receivers in many parts of the country.
In her ruling, Judge Scott found that Polymer80’s website falsely represented the legality of its products in the FAQ sections of its website. The company noted that its products were legal under federal law but did not make any disclaimers for local jurisdictions like D.C., where unserialized firearms are banned. The lawsuit was initially launched by Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D.) in June of 2020 as part of the city’s push to crack down on “ghost guns” in the District. He celebrated Wednesday’s judgment as a positive step in that push.
“This judgment against Polymer80 is a major victory for D.C. residents and for public safety, and it will help slow the flow of deadly untraceable ghost guns into our community,” AG Racine said in a press release. “The more than $4 million in penalties imposed by the court in this case should send a strong message to firearm manufacturers, distributors, and dealers across the country: you cannot sell illegal guns to D.C. residents.”
Polymer80 did not respond to a request for comment on the judgment.
The company is one of the country’s largest and most prominent manufacturers of do-it-yourself homemade firearm kits. It is most known for selling unfinished Glock-style handgun frames and unfinished rifle receivers. Its stature and market share in the unfinished firearms trade has drawn the ire of several blue state and city officials, many of whom have filed their own civil suits against the company.
At the behest of President Joe Biden, the ATF finalized a new rule earlier this April to crack down on so-called ghost gun kits. The rule bans the sale of unfinished firearm parts kits containing the tools and instructions to complete a finished weapon. It also expands the agency’s power to define what constitutes a legal firearm under federal law.
The ATF published the rule on an accelerated schedule at the urging of gun control activists, who celebrated its finalization. Gun-rights advocates, meanwhile, have teamed up with several red-state Attorneys General to attempt to block the rule in court.