FORBES.COM December 18, 2020 – President-elect Joseph Biden is targeting untraceable firearms in his gun control plan, and a federal raid on a ghost gun company could be a shot across the bow for gun kit makers.
Armed with a search warrant, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided Polymer80 on Dec. 10, a small manufacturer in a boxy-looking building in an inconspicuous industrial park in the desert town of Dayton, Nevada. Polymer80 makes unfinished gun parts, otherwise known as ghost guns, because buyers can convert them into AR-15s, Glock-style pistols and other firearms with the drilling of a few well-placed holes, evading the background checks required when buying a firearm from a dealer. They also lack serial numbers, which makes them difficult to trace.
The ATF was looking for Polymer80’s “Buy Build Shoot” kits, which it blames for a violent interstate crime wave, according to the search warrant and the 119-page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada.
The ATF says that Polymer80 shipped gun kits to California and the resulting firearms were recovered in investigations of 15 murders last year, including a triple-homicide home invasion in Glendale. The ATF also says a Polymer80-built handgun was used this year in the non-fatal shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Compton.
When reached by phone, Polymer80 Chief Executive Office David Borges referred comment to his lawyer Jason Davis of California, who described the ATF raid as a “complete surprise.”
”Polymer80 strongly disagrees with ATF’s stated position and will exercise every legal option available to it in opposition,” said Davis, in an email. He said that Polymer80 used to enjoy a “professional and cooperative” relationship with the ATF, but it was only in the last several days they learned that the ATF classified the Buy Build Shoot kits as firearms.
Cody Wilson, director of another gun kit company called Ghost Gunner, said the ATF raid was a blunt message to the industry.
“They’re doing this show of force to scare everybody off from selling their own kits,” said Wilson, whose company employs 18 workers in Austin, Texas. “This was seen as jumping the gun and a bit insulting because they could have just told the industry. It’s introducing conflict and uncertainty. Its goal was to hurt the industry.”
The ATF spokeswoman who provided the documents to Forbes declined to comment. The ATF, in its documents regarding Polymer80, says that 10,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement in 2019, according to data from the ATF National Tracing Center. [full article]