New York City officials are scheduled to announce Wednesday the city is filing lawsuits against five retailers of so-called ghost guns.
The action comes after an investigation by authorities determined the companies violate city laws by illegally sending components used to assemble the untraceable firearms to addresses in the five boroughs, two law enforcement officials told CNN.
The suit, which is going to be filed by the City Law Department, stems from an investigation by the New York City Sheriff’s office where they set up an address and ordered parts online to identify which companies were the main culprits, according to one of the law enforcement official. The official said the companies violate a law passed by the city council, making it illegal to receive ghost gun parts in the city.
The city has scheduled a news conference at 11 a.m., at which NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell Mayor Eric Adams and other law enforcement officials including the New York attorney general are expected to make the announcement, the officials said.
CNN has reached out to the New York attorney general, the city law department and city sheriff’s office for comment.
Along with Adams and law enforcement, the mother of a 16-year-old Bronx girl killed earlier this year by a suspect wielding a ghost gun is expected to speak at the news conference, one official said.
The growth of ghost guns, which still make up a small number of the overall number of guns in the country, has raised concerns because of the rate at which the problem is growing and because the guns are nearly impossible to be identified.
The number of untraceable ghost guns recovered at city crime scenes or seized through investigations has increased about 200% each year since 2018, when the first such weapons were discovered in the city, one official said.
As of June 14, the city has recovered 175 ghost guns, compared to 64 ghost guns through the same period last year, a second official said. In all, the NYPD recovered 270 ghost guns last year.
A CNN analysis earlier this year of 2021 data found while ghost guns still make up a relatively small percentage of the total number of guns recovered by law enforcement, several cities reported sharp increases in the number of ghost guns recovered over time. San Francisco police told CNN they seized 1,089 guns in 2021, about 20% of which were ghost guns. In 2016, ghost guns made up less than 1% of total gun seizures in the city.
In a report released last month, the ATF determined between 2016 and 2021, more than 45,000 firearms suspected of being privately made, including ghost guns, were recovered by law enforcement from potential crime scenes and reported to the ATF. Nearly 20,000 of those firearms were recovered and traced in 2021 alone.
In April, President Joe Biden announced new requirements for ghost guns, including background checks before a ghost gun can be purchased and requiring serial numbers be included on some components.