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Philadelphia reaches settlement in case against 2 large suppliers of ghost guns

Settlement will help keep ghost guns off Philadelphia streets, Mayor Cherelle Parker says
Settlement will help keep ghost guns off Philadelphia streets, Mayor Cherelle Parker says 00:44

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Two of the largest suppliers of ghost guns have reached a settlement agreement with the city of Philadelphia, under which they agreed to stop selling their products online and in stores in the city for four years and at gun shows for two years, Mayor Cherelle Parker announced Thursday.

The settlement, to be filed Friday, resolves a lawsuit brought by the city in July 2023 against Polymer80 and JSD Supply, which were among the largest suppliers of ghost guns in Philadelphia. In addition to agreeing to temporarily halt selling their ghost guns in Philadelphia, Polymer80 will make $1.3 million in payments to the city to fund efforts to address gun violence.

Ghost guns are unserialized and untraceable firearms that can be assembled at home with the help of kits sold online. The use of these homemade firearms in U.S. crimes has proliferated in the past few years, spiking more than 1,000% since 2017, according to a Justice Department report released last year.

In Philadelphia, the police department recovered more than 575 ghost guns during criminal investigations in 2022, according to the city, and the suit alleged that as of July 2023, 87% of the firearms recovered in Philadelphia were manufactured by Polymer80, a Nevada-based company.

Because the ghost guns are assembled at home, suppliers will ship their kits to addresses in Philadelphia without conducting background checks or other efforts to verify the identity of the buyer, and the city alleged that the ghost gun sellers do not maintain records of their sales or customers, all in violation of Pennsylvania's main gun law.

"By marketing, selling, and distributing firearm kits and frame blanks into Philadelphia, without conducting background checks or following other point-of-sale requirements under [the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act], defendants have created, and continue to create, a public nuisance, unduly burdening the city's law enforcement and public health institutions and resulting in significant damage and a proliferating threat to the public's right to health and safety in Philadelphia," the lawsuit stated.

The city claimed that Polymer80 and JSD Supply "act brazenly in pursuit of profit" without obeying the law, public safety or the lives impacted by violence perpetrated using ghost guns. It sought a court order prohibiting Polymer80 and Pennsylvania-based JSD Supply from selling their firearms to Philadelphia consumers until they are in compliance with state law.

The lawsuit was filed by the city of Philadelphia, along with Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Since taking office, President Biden has announced a series of initiatives aimed at combatting gun violence. In April 2022, his administration rolled out a new rule targeting the manufacture and sale of ghost guns, requiring the assembly kits to include serial numbers. Under the measure, sellers must also be federally licensed, run background checks before selling the kits, and maintain records of purchases. 

Makers of firearms parts kits, including Polymer80 and JSD Supply, joined a lawsuit challenging the measure, and a federal appeals court invalidated the rule. The Supreme Court is now considering whether to take up an appeal from the Biden administration. 

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