The trend of anti-gun groups teaming up with blue state attorney generals to sue federal firearms regulators over homemade "ghost" guns is spreading and is now being fought on both coasts. 

This week, Giffords joined with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra-- a former career Congressional Democrat--to file a federal lawsuit demanding the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lower the boom on popular DIY gun kits. 

Under longstanding ATF guidelines going back to at least 2006, so-called "80 percent" unfinished pistol frames and rifle receivers aren't subject to government oversight so long as they are made by individuals who can otherwise legally possess a firearm and don't cross into National Firearms Act territory (e.g. machine guns, SBRs, suppressors). The lawsuit is aimed at changing that tradition. 

“If you can assemble Ikea furniture, you can definitely build a ghost gun,” said Hannah Shearer, Giffords Law Center Litigation Director, in a statement. “And you’ll probably be able to do it faster: there are kits and tools that let you assemble a ghost gun in under 15 minutes. Yet for no reason at all, the parts used to build ghost guns aren’t treated as firearms under federal law."

Becerra's office contends the effort would be in line with " protecting the public and upholding California’s commonsense gun safety laws."

Becerra, a Stanford-educated lawyer that spent three years as a deputy attorney general in the California Department of Justice before embarking on a 27-year stint as a state and federal lawmaker that included co-sponsoring the controversial 1994 Assault Weapon Ban, left his seat in 2016 to accept Gov. Jerry Brown's offer to be the Attorney General of California, replacing Kamala Harris, who had just been elected to the U.S. Senate. 

Not the only case


Notably, the legal action comes only weeks after four cities-- Syracuse, NY, San Jose, CA, Chicago, IL, and Columbia, SC-- joined with Michael Bloomberg's Everytown organization in a similar effort filed in a New York federal court. 

In both actions, the plaintiffs seek for the courts to confirm that such unfinished components are modern “firearms” under federal law, making them subject to federal regulatory requirements such as having a serial number and over-the-counter transfers through an FFL requiring a background check. According to the filing from Becerra's office, currently, there are at least 80 online retailers that sell all of the parts necessary to build a gun from an unfinished kit. 

Besides the litigation, national gun control groups to include Everytown and Giffords have helped back legislation that in the past year has seen California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, D.C. ban "ghost guns."