Lawsuit is the first ever action by state officials to hold accountable suppliers of guns marketed to criminals and traffickers
Ghost guns require no background checks, allowing felons and terrorists to easily get their hands on deadly weapons
March 22, 2019 – Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the legal arm of the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauded New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal for his exemplary leadership in addressing the significant threat to public safety posed by so-called ghost guns. Ghost guns are do-it-yourself, untraceable firearms sold online with no background checks, increasingly making them the choice of gun traffickers and dangerous criminals. By targeting a distributor of ghost guns, U.S. Patriot Armory, with a first-of-its-kind action to enjoin its dangerous and unlawful business practices, General Grewal has provided a model for law enforcement across the nation to stop the sale of ghost guns and ghost gun components.
Statement from Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at Giffords Law Center
“Ghost guns are catnip for criminals and gun traffickers because law enforcement can’t trace them and these homemade firearms let convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people build their own guns with no background checks and no questions asked. While ghost gun companies like U.S. Patriot Armory are fueling crime in New Jersey and trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities, the lawsuit filed today sends a powerful signal that no one is above the law and no company can line its pockets by sacrificing the safety of our families and communities. Giffords Law Center and our partners in the FACT coalition applaud the leadership from Attorney General Grewal and the Murphy administration and are proud to support law enforcement across the country as they work to stop the growing threat posed by the ghost gun industry.”
The lawsuit comes just days after New Jersey law enforcement uncovered and busted a ring of criminals in New Jersey buying, assembling, and trafficking homemade AR-15 assault-style rifles. The four men arrested in the ring became the first people charged under a law Governor Murphy signed into law last year, which outlawed the sale and distribution of these deadly, untraceable weapons.
Last June, Giffords Law Center and its partners in the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce (FACT) announced efforts to crack down on illegal sales of ghost guns. The effort, part of an unprecedented public-private effort on gun-safety litigation, combined the investigative and enforcement powers of law enforcement with the expertise of the nation’s leading gun litigation coalition. Giffords Law Center and its partners in the FACT coalition work with attorneys at a dozen of the nation’s premier law firms, bringing unparalleled legal resources to the legal fight against gun violence. The FACT coalition is proud to support legal action against the rogue elements of the gun industry that threaten public safety in New Jersey.
This comprehensive report released recently by Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, notes that local businesses are severely impacted when gun violence occurs, as shootings keep customers and tourists away and often limit hours of operation. On average, there are 2,014 shootings in New Jersey each year, resulting in directly measurable costs of over $1.2 billion annually. That includes:
- Healthcare costs: $93 million
- Law enforcement and criminal justice expenses: $131 million
- Costs to employers: $8 million
- Lost income: $918 million
Much of this tab is picked up by the public. Up to 85% of gunshot victims, for example, are either uninsured or on some form of publicly funded insurance. Additionally, law enforcement efforts are funded entirely by taxpayer dollars. As a result, the direct annual cost of gun violence to New Jersey taxpayers is approximately $273 million.
Even more striking, when indirect costs that impact families and communities are factored in, the overall estimate of the economic cost of gun violence rises to $3.3 billion per year.