Giffords Law Center Asks Internet Service Providers To Immediately Shut Down Websites for Businesses that Allow Dangerous Individuals to Make Untraceable Assault Weapons with No Background Checks
November 24, 2017 — Following a mass shooting that left six dead in Tehama County, California, carried out by a shooter prohibited from owning guns and charged with multiple crimes who made two assault weapons with parts ordered online, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence asked two Internet Service Providers to take down websites for businesses that allow dangerous persons to avoid background checks and make their own assault weapons. These do-it-yourself guns are known as “ghost guns” because they lack serial numbers that are generally required under federal law, and are a critical tool for law enforcement.
In letters sent to Shopify, Inc., the web host for GhostGunner.net, and DreamHost Inc., the web host for GhostGuns.com, Giffords Law Center urged the Internet Service Providers to disable the two businesses’ websites, because they allow individuals who are legally barred from buying a firearm to buy materials and tools that allow them to assemble guns themselves.
Both Ghost Guns and Ghost Gunner sell tools and gun components that allow anyone to make semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons without passing the background checks that federal law requires licensed gun dealers to conduct. Ghost Gunner sells a machine and software that allows purchasers to manufacture assault weapons with the simple click of a button.
The firearms that are manufactured using parts and tools sold by the two companies cannot be traced by law enforcement because they lack serial numbers. And because the guns are illegal in multiple states, the two companies aid and abet violations of various laws, in violation of the Internet Service Providers’ Acceptable Use Policies and Terms of Service.
The letters, sent on behalf of Giffords Law Center by their counsel at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, pointed out that:
- The Internet Service Providers’ policies prohibit their customers from engaging in illegal activities and promoting illegal activities by consumers, and they allow the ISPs to shut down the websites they host at will
- The ISPs should disable the websites, which sell deadly, unlawful products
- Online purchases from the websites allows purchasers to avoid requisite background checks and to make firearms that cannot be traced by law enforcement
- The websites’ products are illegal in multiple states, and aid and abet violations of state law by their customers
For nearly 25 years, the legal experts at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence have been fighting for a safer America by researching, drafting, and defending the laws, policies, and programs proven to save lives from gun violence.