New Jersey sues 'ghost gun' dealer for selling AR-15 assembly kits

New Jersey on Friday filed a lawsuit against a California retailer that sold so-called ghost guns, or assembly kits for untraceable AR-15 rifles.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court against U.S. Patriot Armory, comes after Gov. Phil Murphy (D) criminalized the purchase of firearm parts with the goal of assembling a gun without a serial number, news site NJ.com reported. 

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U.S. Patriot Armory and its owner, James Tromblee Jr., are accused of selling the “ghost guns,” which officials say bypass loopholes in state and federal firearm laws by selling “80 percent builds” with instructions for how to complete the rest.

The guns can be sold online and shipped through the mail without background checks because the nearly-completed guns are not capable of firing, the newspaper noted.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal sent cease-and-desist letters to at last 16 companies that sell such kits after Murphy’s ban went into effect in November.

Grewal said during a news conference on Friday that U.S. Patriot Armory ignored the demand to stop shipping.

An undercover officer was able to order “all the parts to make a fully operational AR-15-style rifle” for $583.98 in February, which was shipped them to a New Jersey address “without conducting a background check, without including a serial number, and without a warning that the gun we were buying was illegal in our state.”

A firearms expert with the state police was able to assemble and fire the AR-15 after the assembly kit arrived last week, the newspaper reported.

New Jersey was still listed as an option for shipping while on the company’s website Friday morning, according to NJ.com

The Hill has reached out to U.S. Patriots Armory for comment.