SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Wednesday his office is suing three businesses that manufacture and distribute ghost guns throughout the state.

Boudin, along with the law firm Keker, Van Nest & Peters, LLP and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, filed the civil lawsuit against Blackhawk Manufacturing Group, Inc.; GS Performance, LLC; MDX Corporation; and additional unknown defendants to stop the spread of the untraceable weapons.

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“Today we directly take on those who are responsible for bringing these dangerous and unregulated weapons into the streets of San Francisco and throughout the state of California,” said District Attorney Boudin. “Ghost guns pose a grave threat to public safety; these untraceable firearms are readily available to children and prohibited persons.

“We will hold the companies responsible for their manufacture and distribution accountable,” he added.

Ghost guns are untraceable, fully functional, unregistered firearms pre-packaged for assembly by customers. They are also increasingly used in crimes in San Francisco: according to San Francisco Police Chief William Scott, nearly half of the firearms recovered in 2020 in connection with San Francisco homicides were ghost guns; in 2019, that number was just 6%.

“According to San Francisco Police Department data, in 2016 just six ghost guns were recovered by police; 164 ghost guns were recovered in 2020—an astronomical increase of over 2000%,” said a press release from Boudin’s office. “As of just August of 2021, the San Francisco crime lab has already processed over 150 ghost guns. These numbers, of course, only represent those ghost guns the police actually recover—but fail to capture the full number of ghost guns possessed and used in San Francisco.”

Because of the nature of the product, ghost gun kit manufacturers do not follow firearm sales regulations. The kits are also easy to assemble — several YouTube videos and websites are available to help buyers.

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“Using common tools, an officer acting under the direction of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office was able to assemble the pistol frame of one of the defendant’s ghost guns in 24 minutes and 40 seconds and attach it to a slide assembled in about five minutes. He was then able to fire the gun.

Boudin’s office also noted that ghost guns hinder investigations of crimes and fuel cycles of violence.

“Because ghost guns lack serial numbers and there are no records of their sale, law enforcement cannot initiate trace requests of ghost guns through the ATF or the California Department of Justice when such firearms are recovered in crimes,” Boudin’s office stated.

Boudin filed the lawsuit against these manufacturers using civil powers given to his office under California law. The lawsuit seeks monetary penalties and an injunction prohibiting defendants from violating federal and state gun laws.

“Ghost gun manufacturers and retailers do not comply with lawful business practices and evade the laws governing the manufacture, sale, and possession of firearms—laws designed to protect consumer and public safety,” Boudin’s office wrote. “What’s more, as the complaint sets out, ghost gun companies deceive California consumers about the legality of their products. There are many requirements under California law for gun ownership and registration, but the Complaint alleges that ghost gun companies mislead consumers into believing that ghost guns are legal, thus engaging in false advertising and fraudulent business practices.”

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The defendants did not issue a response by press time.