TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal filed a lawsuit Friday against a "ghost gun" company that allegedly sold an assault firearms kit online to an undercover state investigator.
This marks the first such lawsuit against a ghost gun distributor.
Officials say ghost guns are partially-assembled firearms sold with the parts needed to create a fully-operational weapon, often with the instructions on how to do so.
Because ghost guns are incomplete at the moment of sale, the companies do not require their buyers to go through background checks. This allows prohibited persons -- including terrorists, fugitives and felons -- to get firearms that they otherwise could not obtain.
Additionally, completed ghost guns lack serial numbers, which makes it harder for law enforcement to trace the weapons to their owners and solve gun-related crimes.
The defendant in in the lawsuit is James Tromblee, Jr., founder and owner of the California-based ghost gun company U.S. Patriot Armory. The lawsuit alleges U.S. Patriot Armory violated New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act by continuing to advertise and market ghost guns to New Jersey residents and by delivering an assault firearms kit to a New Jersey buyer.
"New Jersey law is clear, ghost guns are illegal in our state," Grewal said. "Since U.S. Patriot Armory decided to ignore our laws and advertise and sell ghost guns to New Jersey residents, I'm taking action. We're filing the first state civil enforcement action against a ghost gun company to demand penalties and to get an order blocking New Jersey sales. This is my message to the entire ghost gun industry: If you continue selling dangerous and unlawful weapons into our state, we will come after you in court, just like we did against U.S. Patriot Armory today."
The complaint alleges that on February 14, 2019, an investigator for the Division of Consumer Affairs using an undercover identity accessed the U.S. Patriot Armory website and purchased a ghost gun kit for the creation of an AR-15 assault rifle. The kit was delivered to an undercover New Jersey address earlier this month.
The four-count lawsuit charges U.S. Patriot Armory with violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and violating state regulations that restrict the sale of unlawful products. The suit seeks a court order prohibiting U.S. Patriot Army from advertising, offering for sale or selling ghost guns and ghost gun parts to New Jersey residents.
The lawsuit also seeks a court order directing U.S. Patriot Armory to include a disclaimer on its website making clear that purchasing ghost guns is a crime in New Jersey.
Grewal also announced that in response to cease-and-desist letters he had sent to ghost gun companies ordering them to stop advertising and selling their products in the state, 15 ghost gun companies agreed to block all New Jersey sales.
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