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San Jose, Chicago and 2 other cities sue to stop spread of ghost guns

"Ghost guns" on display at San Francisco police headquarters in 2019.
“Ghost guns,” which require no serial numbers or background checks, are shown at San Francisco police headquarters in 2019.
(Haven Daley / Associated Press)

San Jose, along with Chicago and two other cities, are suing the federal government to stop the proliferation of what are advertised as easy-to-assemble guns that require no serial numbers or background checks.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court asked a judge to stop the government from letting gun parts that can easily be converted to functioning weapons be distributed without restrictions.

The lawsuit was brought against the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by the cities of San Jose; Chicago; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Columbia, S.C. — along with the Everytown for Gun Safety group.

The lawsuit alleges that sales of the so-called ghost guns have grown during the pandemic. The weapons, which contain no registration numbers that could be used to trace them and require no background checks, increasingly have shown up at crime scenes, government officials say.

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“It’s simple — individuals with dangerous histories shouldn’t be able to order lethal weapons on the internet with a few quick clicks,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a release.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said ghost guns had rapidly become the “weapon of choice for traffickers, abusers, and extremists.”

In January, attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia sued the government in Seattle federal court over another form of a ghost gun as they sought to strike down a federal regulation that could allow blueprints for making guns on 3D printers to be posted on the internet.

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Messages seeking comment from the Justice Department and the ATF were not returned.


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