At 18, Zachary Burkard was too young to buy a handgun from a licensed gun store, and he was an admitted drug dealer with mental health issues. He went to the website of 80P Builder, a seller of “ghost gun” parts with no serial numbers, bought a gun kit and assembled a complete pistol himself. Two months later, Burkard watched a fistfight between two schoolmates at a friend’s house. He entered the Springfield, Va., home’s garage and began shooting, killing them both. The families of the two teens, with the help of the anti-gun-violence group Everytown for Gun Safety, are suing the distributor of the parts Burkard used to make his ghost gun, 80P Builder of Florida, and the manufacturer, Polymer80 of Nevada, for gross negligence in providing a teenager with a weapon when he was not legally able to buy a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, reports the Washington Post.
Teenagers have discovered the ease with which they can acquire the parts for a ghost gun, and they have been buying, building and shooting the homemade guns with alarming frequency. Everytown for Gun Safety compiled a list of more than 50 incidents involving teens and ghost guns since 2019. Brooklyn Park, Minn., police arrested two teens with ghost guns in December after authorities said one of them attempted to shoot someone outside their car but instead killed their friend inside it. New Rochelle, N.Y., a 16-year-old created a “ghost gun factory” in his bedroom last year before killing another 16-year-old. In Montgomery County, Md., a teen using a ghost gun shot and seriously injured another student inside the boys’ bathroom at Magruder High School last year. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) estimated that Polymer80 was responsible for more than 88 percent of the ghost guns recovered by police between 2017 and 2021, though there are nearly 100 manufacturers selling parts, or full kits, which can be made into unserialized guns, a list compiled by Everytown shows. Last year, police departments seized at least 25,785 ghost guns nationwide, and those are just the weapons submitted by police to ATF for tracing, even though they don’t have serial numbers and largely cannot be traced.