New York City and the state are suing 10 companies for allegedly distributing untraceable “ghost guns,” homemade firearms composed of mostly plastic components.
In announcing the legal actions Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams and state Attorney General Letitia James said the separate lawsuits were filed in state and federal court in a coordinated effort to attack the trafficking in ghost guns. Both leaders and law enforcement have blamed the weapons for fueling gun violence in the city and the state.
Adams described the flow of ghost guns as a “plastic pipeline," similar to the “Iron Pipeline” route taken by gun traffickers of more traditional firearms.
James is suing 10 distributors under a new state public nuisance law. Adams said the city is going after five of the distributors in federal court under similar New York City laws in an effort to stop ghost gun commerce.
“Many have high capacity magazines that turn a plastic item into the equivalent of an assault weapon capable of firing multiple shots," said Adams at a Manhattan news conference with James, "and other kits are actually available to assemble semi-automatics, like the AK-47s, that were used in Buffalo and Uvalde."
“These are dangerous weapons," he continued. "We should not think these are just used by hobbyists, they are being used by murderers."
Adams and James both highlighted the recent case of 16-year-old Angellyh Yambo, a Bronx charter high school student who was shot and killed in a crossfire by a stray ghost gun bullet in April. A 15-year-old suspect is facing homicide charges for the killing, officials said. A teenage bystander was also shot but survived.
Among the distributors being sued by both the city and state are Rainier Arms LLC, Indie Guns LLC and Rock Slide USA, LLC. Officials at Rainier Arms and Rock Slide USA didn’t return telephone calls and emails for comment. At Indie Guns, located in Orlando, Florida, top official Lawrence DeStefano said his industry refers to the guns involved in the lawsuits as “craft guns.”
DeStefano was steadfast in his right to do business and cited a recent Bronx subway incident in which a woman was grabbed by her hair and assaulted.
“I would have been proud to supply every law abiding citizen on that train, with the component and accessories or whatever needed to comprise a craft gun so they would have walked up to that idiot,” and shot him, DeStefano said.
Indie Guns attorney Chris Waugh said in a statement that the New York lawsuits were started in bad faith and politically motivated.
“Only a few days ago, the Supreme Court of the United States explained in a not-close decision that New York City had long been unconstitutionally burdening Second Amendment rights," Waugh said. "NYC should be humbled and it should be learning. Instead, it has banded together with New York [State] to pursue my client and other small businesses who have violated no constitutional law."