Today should reveal whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will fight hard to get access to the sales records of a Southern California gun shop that is at the center of a court fight relating to alleged sales of partly-finished gun parts that allow customers to build their own AR-15 rifles.
Ares Armor in Oceanside obtained a temporary restraining order after BATF agents demanded a list of their customers who had purchased so-called “80-percent” receivers; that is, the lower portion of an AR-15 main frame that houses the fire controls of the firearm once it is assembled. Even KSWB/Fox5 News in San Diego noted, “It is legal to build a rifle from scratch without serial numbers only if the base is manufactured to ATF specifications.”
The BATF is reportedly contending that these unfinished receivers do not meet specifications. Earlier in the week the agency raided EP Armory, allegedly believing that this company was making operable receivers and then returning the receivers to an “unfinished” appearance by filling in spaces.
But Ares Armor CEO Dimitrios Karras insisted that is not the case and said so in an open letter on his company’s website.
“The BATFE,” he said, “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.”
District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino issued an order earlier this week allowing ATF to oppose the Ares motion with a deadline of today, and is then allowing Ares to respond by next Monday at 9 a.m. The judge also set a 1:30 p.m. preliminary injunction hearing next Thursday.