ATF accuses Ares Armor of illegal gun sales

District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the United States District Court, Southern District of California issued an order Friday to prevent
Oceanside’s gun parts supplier Ares Armor from divesting itself of inventory and records subject to a temporary restraining order the court issued
Tuesday. Also included in the order was notice that the TRO did “not restrain lawful criminal proceedings,” as well as a modification of the
briefing schedule ordering “the parties [to] fully address all of the facts and circumstances as alleged by one another.” The TRO, as reported in
this column on Thursday, was requested by Ares Armor to forestall a raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in which inventory
and customer records were targeted for seizure. That ATF action was in response to the company selling so-called “80 percent lower receivers”
manufactured by EP Armory, itself the subject of a raid and seizures over parts which have previously been determined by ATF not to be a firearm, as
further machining operations must be taken by customers to turn them into functional components. As explained by St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner Kurt
Hofmann, “EP Armory’s polymer 80% lower receivers have a unique feature in that the material to be removed by milling and/or drilling is a
different color from the material that is to be left untouched — thus making it easy to do the machining, even without a jig.” The court’s order
was in response to a Friday Department of Justice “ex parte application for order (1)) extending injunction to prevent divestment of subject matter
of temporary restraining order, and (2) clarifying that temporary restraining order does not restrain lawful criminal proceedings.” In it, U.S.
Attorneys maintain ATF “is conducting a lawful criminal investigation of the illegal manufacture, distribution, sale, and possession of AR-15
variant lower receivers” and allege Ares Armor “is in possession of approximately 6,000 … unserialized AR-15 lower receivers. Further, Ares
Armor is not a federal firearms licensee, so it cannot legally engage in the business of dealing firearms, let alone ones that do not bear the
required manufacturer’s mark and serial number.” “I look for ATF Firearms Technology Branch ‘hocus-pocus’ to come to the forefront …
because they will claim the ‘marking’ of these critical holes will ‘make’ this plastic chunk a firearm,” an industry source told Gun Rights
Examiner. “It’s FTB’s nature to do so. “Now that this has gone viral, the ATF and U.S. Attorney have no choice but to go forward with a
criminal case come hell or high water,” the source continued, also predicting “other manufacturers will get a spontaneous revision letter
effectively changing the rules.

And from their own website.

TO: Whom It May Concern FROM: Dimitrios Karras, CEO Ares Armor SUBJ: Temporary Restraining Order Against BATFE DATE: March 12, 2014 Sir or
Ma’am, Last week the BATFE Raided EP Armory based on a determination letter that had deemed the 80% Polymer product to be a firearm. The
determination letter that the BATFE used to obtain warrants against EP Armory is based on incorrect information about the manufacturing process. The
BATFE has been notified of their error and the incorrectness of their determination based on this error. This week on Monday, March 10th the BATFE
threatened to raid us even though they are fully aware that their determination letter is factually incorrect. They requested that we turn over a list
of every customer that had purchased a polymer lower from us and turn over the remaining inventory that we have. Our customer’s privacy is of the
utmost importance to us. I cannot in good moral conscience turn over a list of names to the BATFE just because they unduly threaten us with an unjust
raid based on information they KNOW TO BE FALSE! For the time we are SAFE! We were granted a Temporary Restraining Order against the BATFE on March
11th. The following is the declaration that I made during the process of obtaining this TRO: Declaration of Dimitrios Karras, CEO Ares Armor In
regards to the events surrounding Ares Armor’s interaction with EP Armory’s products and the threats made towards Ares Armor by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE.) The following declarations are true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I, Dimitrios Karras,
state: 1. During a meeting with the BATFE around the end of 2012 that was unrelated to EP Armory’s product, the Agent that was present very
strongly requested that I turn over Ares Armor’s customer list. He intimidated me with the possibility of criminal charges if he was not satisfied.
This was the first attempt the BATFE made to intimidate Ares Armor into turning over private customer information. 2. An 80% lower is an industry
term for an unfinished receiver that is not considered to be a firearm. 3. EP Armory manufactures an 80% lower receiver made from polymer. 4. Ares
Armor purchases and then resells many products one of which is the 80% Polymer Lowers that are made by EP Armory. 5. In the regular course of
business I have seen many different 80% AR-15 receivers. 6. EP Armory’s product is no different than standard 80% receivers that are sold openly
and that the BATFE has consistently determined to not be a firearm. EP Armory’s product is in compliance with previous BATFE Determinations and is
not a firearm. 7. The BATFE has Raided EP Armory based on incorrect information about EP Armory’s manufacturing process. The determination letter
written by the BATFE incorrectly classified the EP Armory product as a firearm based on faulty information. The BATFE was under the impression that EP
Armory was making a firearm and then reverting back to the 80% stage by filling in the fire-control cavity. At no point during the manufacturing
process by EP Armory is a weapon made and then reverted. The solid fire-control cavity is built first and the rest of the 80% casting is made around
this “core” specifically so that their product at no time could be considered to be a firearm. a. As can be seen in Exhibit 1-3. The BATFE has
consistently determined that the machining operations that cannot be performed in order to not be considered a firearm are as follows: 1. Milling out
of fire-control cavity. 2. Selector-lever hole drilled. 3. Cutting of trigger slot. 4. Drilling of trigger pin hole. 5. Drilling of hammer pin
hole. b. EP Armory’s product is consistent with the BATFE’s many previous determinations. c. At no time during EP Armory’s
manufacturing process are any of the aforementioned 5 operations in a state that could cause a reasonable person to believe that EP Armory’s product
would be considered a firearm. 8. The BATFE has been appropriately informed of their mistake. However, even though they have no determination that
is based on fact, they are knowingly using their fiction based determination to intimidate Ares Armor with threats in order to inappropriately gain
access to information that is private and should be protected. 9. I received communication on or about 3/10/2014 from our legal counsel (Jason Davis)
that the BATFE was in the process of obtaining a warrant against Ares Armor based on their incorrect determination of EP Armory’s Product.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *