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July 6, 2022

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NYC mayor calls on ATF to yank Nevada ghost gun kit maker’s license

NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor is calling on the Biden administration to yank the federal firearms license of a Nevada company that sells parts and kits for ghost guns, firearms without serial numbers that have been increasingly turning up at crime scenes around the U.S.

Mayor Eric Adams joined with gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety on Wednesday to publicly call for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to immediately revoke the license of a Polymer80, Inc., alleging the company has violated federal gun laws requiring background checks of purchasers and serial numbers, among other measures.

The ATF declined to comment. Polymer80 did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The push comes as the Biden administration is working to crack down on sellers of ghost guns. A recently unveiled new rule will change the definition of a firearm and require federally licensed gun dealers to add serial numbers to ghost guns and unfinished parts of guns, and to run background checks on their buyers — just like they do for commercially made firearms. The rule is scheduled to take effect in August.

But Adams and Everytown contend that Polymer80’s sales could be considered violations of other federal guns laws already in effect and called on the ATF to revoke the company’s license.

In their letter, Adams and Everytown said they were “deeply concerned” that the company continues to keep its federal license “despite clear evidence of numerous willful violations” of the law.

The New York City Police Department linked a shooting last month in the Bronx that left a 16-year-old girl dead and two other teens injured to a ghost gun assembled from a Polymer80 kit, the city said.

Allowing it to keep the license “would also send a terrible message to bad actors in this industry and would be wholly inconsistent with the administration’s crackdown on ghost gun sellers and its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to wayward gun manufacturers and sellers,” the letter said.

Adams, a Democrat, has made cracking down on rising violent crime a chief focus of his new administration. He even hosted President Joe Biden in February as they pledged to work closely together to combat gun violence, with a particular focus on the proliferation of ghost guns. He is one of the co-chairs of Everytown's group of mayors fighting illegal guns, and his communications director is the organization's former chief public affairs officer.

The NYPD said thus far this year, it has taken about 200 ghost guns off the street, compared with 148 for the entire year in 2020. The weapons are a fraction of roughly 2,600 illegal firearms recovered in New York City this year.

Polymer80 has been targeted by other elected officials and law enforcement departments around the U.S., including the ATF, and Everytown.

Everytown last year joined the city of Los Angeles to sue Polymer80 for allegedly creating a public nuisance and violating the state’s business code. Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies badly wounded in an ambush shooting sued the company in August for making parts of a ghost gun used in the attack and the attorney general of Washington, D.C., has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming it violated D.C. gun laws.

The ATF served a search warrant on the company in December 2020 as it investigated whether the company violated gun laws by making and selling gun kits. The company notes on its website that the kits do not fall under the federal definition of a firearm or firearm “frames or receivers.”

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Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.