PHILADELPHIA — Today, the City of Philadelphia announced that it has filed a lawsuit against defendants Polymer80, Inc. and JSD Supply, which are among the largest suppliers of ghost guns confiscated in Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia Law Department filed with co-counsel Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Hausfeld law firm. The lawsuit alleges that the named distributors have perpetuated the gun violence crisis and threatened the public’s right to health and safety by marketing, selling, and dispersing unserialized ghost gun kits into Philadelphia. Through this legal action, the City seeks to stop Polymer80Inc. and JSD Supply from continuing their negligent and illegal business practices, in addition to the payment of damages and the creation of an abatement fund to remediate the harms caused by the defendants due to the use of ghost guns in Philadelphia communities.
According to the lawsuit, Polymer80 Inc. and JSD Supply intentionally undermine federal and state firearms laws by designing, manufacturing, selling and providing ghost gun kits and parts to buyers who do not undergo a background check. Claiming that their products are not firearms, these distributors sell ghost gun kits that are used to assemble a functioning firearm with household tools to Philadelphia customers without following applicable firearm regulations. Ghost gun kits are also widely available for purchase without background checks at gun shows frequently held a short drive from Philadelphia’s city limits.
Because they are untraceable and do not require a background check for purchase, ghost guns have become commonly used by those who cannot legally acquire a firearm, including minors and people with a history of felonies. Sales of firearms by Polymer80 Inc. and JSD Supply are not properly recorded as required by law, so it is difficult to know how many ghost guns are on Philadelphia streets. In 2022 alone, the Philadelphia Police Department confiscated 575 ghost guns while conducting criminal investigations. As of the date of the filing of this lawsuit, 87 percent of the ghost guns recovered in criminal investigations in 2023 were manufactured by Polymer80.
“Today, the City of Philadelphia is taking a stand against gun violence that kills hundreds of people–including children– every year. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in the criminal use of illegal, unserialized ghost guns, assembled using ghost gun kits sold by Polymer80 Inc. and JSD Supply. These untraceable weapons pose a dire threat to our public health and safety and are often used to inflict violence,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We are holding these distributors accountable for supplying ghost guns into our streets and for the havoc they have wreaked in Philadelphia communities. Public safety is our top priority, and we are using every available resource to address and prevent the trauma and irreparable loss caused by gun violence. I am grateful to the Law Department for their efforts to save lives and seek justice through this lawsuit.”
“Polymer80 Inc. and JSD Supply have created a public nuisance by supplying illegal ghost guns to unlicensed individuals in Philadelphia, consequently perpetuating gun violence and causing devastating harm across the city, most often in Black and Brown neighborhoods,” said Diana Cortes, City Solicitor. “Through this lawsuit, the City is taking action to stop gun violence at the root by preventing guns from getting into the hands of criminals and children and wreaking havoc in our communities. I am proud of the City’s efforts to hold these suppliers accountable for their reckless business practices and stop the flow of ghost guns into our city.”
“As a gun violence prevention advocate, I know that gun violence happens when someone who should not have a gun is able to access a gun,” said Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Deputy Chief Counsel David Pucino. “In the face of this serious problem, there is an entire industry that is trying to make it worse. The two ghost gun companies that the City is suing today do not care who they are selling to, whether it’s someone with a felony record, someone at risk of suicide, a child, or a gun trafficker. That’s not just morally wrong—it’s a violation of Pennsylvania law. I’m proud to stand with the City of Philadelphia to stop this reckless and unlawful conduct and to say that you cannot mortgage our communities’ safety to pad your bottom line.”
“Over the past two years, nearly 10 percent of the crime guns recovered by our department have been privately made firearms, also known as ghost guns,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “I am pleased that the City of Philadelphia is taking a stand against the distribution of these untraceable weapons, which are sold without a background check. As a result, ghost guns have become the weapon used by individuals who should never possess firearms. They are a dangerous tool in the hands of those that seek to do harm in our city, and can even end up in the hands of unassuming children. Together, we will strive for a safer Philadelphia.”
“By supplying guns without the background checks required by state law, Polymer80 Inc and JSD Supply are making it easy for high-risk individuals with a history of violent acts and firearm offenses to obtain guns. In doing so, they are putting all Philadelphians at risk. More than two hundred Philadelphia children have been shot in a single year and children across the city report being afraid to walk outside their homes,” said Cheryl Bettigole, Health Commissioner. “I am grateful for the proactive actions of the City of Philadelphia to put a stop to these illegal gun sales.”
“Getting ghost guns off Philadelphia streets is not just a job for law enforcement entities, many City departments are teaming up to support their efforts,” said Managing Director Tumar Alexander. “So, today’s lawsuit announcement against the biggest manufacturer and supplier of the ghost guns recovered by law enforcement shows our shared commitment to hold them accountable for their role in creating a crisis-level issue in our city.”
“We support this lawsuit announced today by Mayor Kenney against the makers of parts used to create so-called Ghost guns,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke. “These untraceable guns are increasingly the firearm of choice for criminals intent on committing crimes with a gun in Philadelphia — precisely because they’re not traceable. We cannot wait for help from Washington and Harrisburg on the Gun issue because far too often, it never comes. So we applaud this step by the Kenney administration to sue these gun part makers, and support it wholeheartedly.”
“Ghost guns in the hands of criminals are a growing problem for law enforcement nationwide, including Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, who is chair of City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention and vice chairman of Council’s Public Safety Committee. “It’s easy to find both individual parts for guns and complete kits for sale on the internet that provide everything needed for assembly. Ghost guns are not traceable because the parts lack serial numbers. Back in 2020, City Council approved my legislation regulating the manufacture of ghost guns in Philadelphia and the transfer of the tools and equipment used to make ghost guns. The lawsuit being filed by the Kenney Administration is another step by City leaders to do everything we can to get illegal guns off of our streets.”
About Ghost Guns
A “ghost gun” is a firearm that is privately manufactured, home-assembled, and untraceable. Ghost guns are sold in unfinished, disassembled form and then assembled into fully functional guns by purchasers, at home, using common household tools. Typically, ghost guns (a) start off as an easy-to-finish frame or receiver blank purchased in a kit or separately along with other necessary parts and (b) are assembled by the purchaser into a completed and functional firearm that has no serial number.
Ghost guns can be acquired without a background check and are used often by those who cannot legally acquire a firearm, including minors and people with a history of felonies. Additionally, because they are unserialized and cannot be traced by law enforcement to their original purchaser, it is unknown how many ghost guns are on the streets of Philadelphia today.
Philadelphia law enforcement are increasingly recovering ghost guns in a wide variety of criminal investigations involving drugs, juvenile possession, and intimate partner violence. Ghost guns have also been involved in suicides, where firearm access plays a crucial role in mortality rate of suicide attempts.