Feds Raid So-Cal Stores… for Plastic Paperweights??

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What exactly constitutes a gun?

A fully-functional firearm that is capable of firing bullets… or a piece of plastic that could eventually be turned into a functional firearm?

This question is at the heart of recent ATF raids carried out on EP Armory and Ares Armor stores in southern California.

TeaParty.org explains the situation:

There is a line between a paperweight and a firearm that has been drawn and determined over the years by manufacturers who have to submit their unfinished pieces of metal to the ATF at which point the ATF rules on whether the work that has been done constitutes a firearm under legal definitions.

When it comes to the much-maligned AR-15 rifle, the ATF has determined that as long as the central well where the trigger assembly resides, and the critical holes for the trigger pin, hammer pin and the safety selector switch have not been drilled, the part is not yet a firearm — and that is the case even if all other machining, drilling and threading on the receiver have already been finished.

EP Armory 80 Percent Lowers

Examples of EP Armory’s 80-percent lowers, which are currently all out of stock.

Because of growing demand from gun enthusiasts who want to build their own AR-15s, manufacturers have invented cost-effective ways to create plastic AR paperweights that comply with ATF regulations. These paperweights can then be modified at home — in compliance with all state and federal laws — to become functional AR-15 rifles.

One of the innovative new entries into this market is EP Armory. EP Armory introduced an injection-molded AR paperweight only it featured a unique twist. Instead of molding the entire piece from one type of plastic they started with a core of one color, and around it they molded a more durable polymer in a color that contrasted with it. In addition, they molded in little pegs with dimples where the critical pin and selector switch holes need to be drilled. This way, with just a hand drill, a rotary grinder and a sharp knife hobbyists can carve away the core material, drill the holes and build themselves a functional rifle — with $500 to $1,000 additional worth of other parts.

However, the ATF declared the unfinished EP Armory paperweight to be a firearm. Since that is the case, a manufacturer’s license is required to make it along with a Federal Firearms License to sell it. EP Armory does not possess those two documents.

Earlier this month the ATF raided EP Armory. In that raid the ATF confiscated EP Armory’s inventory of thousands of AR-shaped blocks of plastic. In addition the ATF agents seized computers and customer lists. Several days after the raid the ATF sent a letter to one of EP’s largest distributors, Ares Armor. In that letter the ATF demanded that Ares Armor turn over its inventory of EP AR-shaped paperweights along with its customer list. If Ares Armor did not comply the ATF would get a warrant and seize the items.

Ares Armor offered up a valid solution—let ATF have its EP paperweights but no customer list. Ares Armory refused to turn the customer list over. The company took their case to court and was successful in obtaining an injunction which was to prohibit ATF from seizing its business information. However, ATF got the injunction amended to allow seizure under a criminal warrant. One day later the ATF raided Ares Armor. During the raid the ATF confiscated Ares Armor’s inventory, broke open the store’s safe and seized its customer lists—and it was all done under a warrant based on a criminal complaint of selling firearms without a license.

The ATF’s recent raids set a dangerous precedent. They seem to be using gray legal areas as pretext to target private information about gun part buyers.

What’s more, if the ATF continues to bend the definition of what constitutes a “gun,” they’ll soon be targeting all resellers of plastic and metal blocks that could potentially be transformed into guns.

Voters must ask themselves, “Is this really a good use of our tax dollars? And do we really want the ATF raiding law-abiding gun-part manufacturers and resellers?”

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