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Court order permanently blocks Florida gun retailer from selling certain gun parts in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday permanently banned a Florida gun retailer from selling or delivering certain gun parts in New York that officials say can be used to assemble untraceable ghost guns and sold without background checks.

The court order and approximately $7.8 million judgment from Judge Jesse Furman come after New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Indie Guns and nine other gun retailers in 2022 in state Supreme Court in Manhattan for allegedly selling tens of thousands of its products to New Yorkers, James' office said.

The lawsuit was first filed in state Supreme Court but was later moved to federal court after Indie Guns and the other defendants filed a motion that said claims in the lawsuit “raise a substantial federal question.”

Indie Guns, which specializes in selling and shipping components used to create ghost guns, negligently sold unfinished frames and receivers — core parts of a firearm — to people it knew were likely to use them in a dangerous manner, according to the judgment. It also found that the retailer made at least $3.9 million in illegal profits and would likely continue to violate local, state, and federal laws.

The retailer is permanently barred from selling, delivering, or giving away any unfinished frames or receivers in the state of New York, according to the judgment. Indie Guns, which advertises some of its products on its website as “UNSERIALIZED UNREGISTERED UNTRACABLE,” must also pay approximately $7.8 million to the state.

A man who answered the Indie Guns phone line and identified himself as owner Lawrence Destefano called the lawsuit “frivolous.” He said he plans to fight the $7.8 million judgment.

The lawsuit against the nine remaining defendants is ongoing, James' office said.

“Indie Guns refused to follow New York and federal law and tried to flood our streets with ghost guns — but now they are paying the price for those bad actions,” said James in a statement. “These deadly weapons are designed to be untraceable and can easily end up in the hands of people otherwise barred from owning guns.”

Under current state law, the sale of an unfinished frame or receiver is a felony.

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Maysoon Khan is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.