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Feds Go After Plastic-Gun Market

Feds Go After Plastic-Gun Market

Government seizing inventories and customer lists

(Tea Party) - In California, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agents have been busy seizing inventories, computers and customer lists from the manufacturer and distributors of an unusual plastic part that the ATF claims is a gun.

First understand some basic gun-building facts:

Since our nation was founded, Americans have toiled away in their own basements, garages or workshops manufacturing firearms for personal-use-and it is legal. Commercial manufacturers been required to be licensed since 1968 but if an individual wants to build their own gun for their own personal use, he or she is free to do so under federal law.

FAX BLAST SPECIAL: Don't Let The Government Take Your Guns! Protect Your Second Amendment Rights!

Next we look at what constitutes a firearm.

A block of steel, aluminum or plastic is not a gun. There are no requirements and no government paperwork even if your intention is to carve that material into a firearm.

Likewise, if machining work is done on that block before it is sold to you, an unfinished piece of material is still nothing more than a piece of metal-like a paperweight. At that point no government paperwork, license or tracking is required either.

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.

Due to the simplicity of the AR design as well as the availability of parts and accessories for it, the popularity of the gun and the ease of machining aluminum, an entire industry has sprung up around this do-it-yourself AR concept. It's not like the steel that most other firearms use.

With the government threatening and setting restrictions on the manufacture and sale of AR-15s that has also fueled interest. Where there is demand there is most certainly opportunity. Case in point: small machine shops around the country started to turn out semi-finished paperweights in the shape of AR lowers at lightning speed-in particular as ARs got scarce and prices began to climb. That was after Barack Obama got elected.

With growing demand manufacturers are seeking ways to bring their costs and their prices down while they find ways to make their products even more attractive to home-builders. 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.

There have been no arrests at either EP Armory or Ares Armor to date.

At this time, the matter is now back in the courts. Attorney Chuck Michel is representing both EP and Ares Armor.

Now those who purchased plastic paperweights manufactured by EP Armory, whether from EP, Ares or a third party, are at risk of possible criminal prosecution. We are talking about thousands of people. EP is appealing the determination that their paperweights are firearms but regardless, the ATF is fully expected to start demanding that people turn them in or they will be faced with felony prosecution.