On Tuesday, the state of Connecticut announced that it had sued four gun companies for allegedly mailing illegal firearm parts with no serial numbers, which are called ghost guns due to them being untraceable, to an undercover police officer.
Announcing the civil lawsuit, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong displayed AR-15 “80% lower receivers” which were sent to the officer. The gun parts can be used to manufacture both automatic and semi-automatic firearms.
“Ghost guns are an untraceable menace that exist for one reason — to evade law enforcement and registration,” Tong said. “They are a threat to public safety, and they are illegal in Connecticut.”
The civil lawsuit states that each gun company violated state consumer protection laws, an offense punishable by a fine of $5,000 per violation. While Tong did not pass comment on the possibility of their civil lawsuit being converted to a criminal one, he did note that the companies also violated Connecticut’s 2019 ghost gun ban.
In Hartford alone, authorities seized 57 ghost guns last year, up from 21 in 2021 and seven in 2020, Tong said. Connecticut is one of 11 states that regulates the production and sales of unmarked gun parts, as per the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Connecticut is not the only state to have sued gun companies over ghost guns, the state of New York and the cities of San Francisco and New York city have done so too.
In state court in Hartford, Tong’s office sued Indie Guns of Orlando, Florida; Steel Fox Firearms of DeLand, Florida; Hell Fire Armory of Wilmington, North Carolina; and AR Industries of Orem, Utah.
Indie Guns owner Lawrence Destefano, whose company also is being sued by New York state, New York City and two other cities, said the lawsuits were without merit and were against what he called craft gun ownership. He also said this was a government attempt to locate more gun owners.
“The only reason these lawsuits were filed was to force a settlement that requires the defendant to turn over customer data,” he said in a phone interview. “I will never turn over unfettered, blanket, indiscriminate customer data.”
The other three companies included in the lawsuit did not respond to any request for comment.
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