WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today filed a lawsuit against Polymer80, Inc., a gun manufacturer that sells untraceable partially-assembled semi-automatic rifles and handguns, for advertising and selling illegal guns to District consumers. In this consumer protection lawsuit, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that Polymer80 violates District law by falsely representing that its weapons are legal in the District and by selling illegal firearms. The firearms Polymer80 sells online are commonly called “ghost guns” because they lack identifying information, such as serial numbers, and are untraceable by law enforcement. Ghost guns have been increasingly used to commit crimes in the District, and more than 80 percent of the 250 ghost guns recovered by District law enforcement since 2017 were made by Polymer80, including guns linked to nine homicides. OAG is seeking a court order to stop Polymer80 from advertising and selling illegal ghost guns to District consumers, monetary relief including consumer restitution or giving up profits earned through unlawful conduct, penalties, and legal costs.
“Polymer80 makes it easy for individuals to buy unmarked and untraceable firearms that are commonly used to commit violent crimes,” said AG Racine. “Indeed, Polymer80’s guns have been used in several homicides in the District. The Office of the Attorney General is seeking a court order to stop the company from selling ghost guns to D.C. consumers and to get these deadly weapons off our streets.”
Polymer80, is a Nevada-based corporation that sells nearly-assembled firearms, including semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and a variety of handguns. The company also sells parts and provides all the instructions consumers need to assemble a fully functional gun in a matter of hours, and even offers what it calls “Buy, Build, Shoot” kits that contain everything in a single package. The firearms sold by Polymer80 lack a unique manufacturer’s number, serial number, or a unique dealer’s identification number, making these guns untraceable “ghost guns.” Polymer80 advertises and sells these weapons online through its own website and a network of dealers and ships them to consumers through the mail. Polymer80’s products are advertised without restriction to D.C. consumers and without notice that multiple aspects of Polymer80’s products violate District law.
Polymer80’s illegal ghost guns contribute to violence in the District, and each year, the number of ghost guns local law enforcement recovers has grown. In 2017, the District recovered three ghost guns, followed by 25 in 2018, and 116 in 2019. The District is on track to set a new record in 2020, with 106 ghost guns recovered between January 1 and May 29 alone. Of the 250 ghost guns recovered since 2017, 208 were produced by Polymer80. Polymer80 handguns have been recovered in connection with nine homicides in the District.
The District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) prohibits a wide variety of deceptive and unlawful businesses practices that harm consumers. Selling products that violate other laws is considered an unlawful trade practice under the CPPA. OAG alleges Polymer80 violated the CPPA by:
- Falsely claiming its firearms are legal in the District: Polymer80 informs District consumers on its website that because their guns are not fully assembled, they are not considered firearms under federal law and can be legally sold, distributed, and possessed. The Polymer80 website’s homepage asks, “Is it legal?” and responds “YES!” However, Polymer80’s guns are considered firearms under District law. Though District consumers can easily purchase a Polymer80 firearm online, the company does not inform them that they are violating District law upon receipt of the firearm.
- Failing to disclose it is not licensed to sell firearms in the District: To legally sell firearms in the District, merchants must obtain a commercial license. Not only does Polymer80 not possess that license, it is prohibited from obtaining one because it sells assault weapons, specifically AR-15 and .308 semi-automatic rifles, which cannot be registered in the District.
- Selling firearms that violate numerous District gun safety laws: District law prohibits the sale or possession of semi-automatic rifles, but Polymer80 sells this type of weapon to District consumers. District law prohibits merchants from offering or selling firearms which lack a unique manufacturer’s number or serial number, or a unique dealer’s identification number, but all Polymer80 firearms lack that information. District law imposes mandatory 10-day waiting periods on firearm purchases, but Polymer80 also does not comply with this requirement. Additionally, District law prohibits any individual from possessing a firearm unless that person obtains a registration certificate, but Polymer80 does not inform consumers of that fact.
OAG is seeking to stop Polymer80 from continuing to sell illegal ghost guns to District consumers, as well as civil penalties, monetary relief, and legal costs.
A copy of the complaint is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Polymer80-Complaint.pdf
How to Report Illegal or Unfair Business Practices
To report illegal or unfair business practices, you can submit a consumer complaint to OAG by calling (202) 442-9828 or online at oag.dc.gov.
Removing Guns from Potentially Dangerous Individuals
Under the District’s “Red Flag Law,” passed in 2018, guns can be quickly removed from people who may pose a danger to themselves or others. Learn about how the law works and how to take action if you are concerned that someone who owns a gun might be a danger to themselves or others at: https://oag.dc.gov/public-safety/dcs-red-flag-law-removing-guns-potentially