The owner of a California-based gun parts store accused the ATF of trying to secretly deal for nearly 5,000 customer names.
From The Blaze:
Trouble for the business owner started after the ATF ruled that a particular type of 80 percent lower receiver carried by Ares Armor in National City, Calif., failed to meet the agency's exact specifications.
The receivers in question, which are used in the construction of AR-15 rifles, have been deemed illegal and are being rounded by the federal agency.
Karras agreed to turn over the product, but balked when the ATF demanded a list of the nearly 5,000 customers who had purchased the item from his store.
A California-based company that sells components for AR-15 rifles was raided by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives March 15 after a judge overturned a temporary restraining order barring the firearms enforcement agency from confiscating the company's inventory and customer lists.
Oceanside, Calif.-based Ares Armor says the ATF agents raided its stores during the weekend in full tactical gear, prying the front doors open and breaking into the company's safes. Witness video purportedly shows ATF agents carting out boxes full of AR-15 components, including so-called 80 percent lower receivers made of a plastic compound the agency believes are not legal to sell without a firearms dealer license.
According to a statement by an ATF lawyer, the agency believes the 80 percent lower receivers are first constructed of polymer, then filled in with a plastic core so it is therefore a firearm and must be sold with a full background check and serial number. Reports indicate the ATF is also concerned Ares may have been involved in illegal manufacturing of firearms.
Ares owner Dimitrios Karras denies his store makes or sells firearms and says the polymer lowers are legally not firearms since the plastic core is built first, then the polymer lower is formed around it. He vowed a court fight to force the ATF to return his inventory and the list of about 5,000 customers who purchased the lower receivers.
"They said either give us these 5,000 names or we are coming in and taking pretty much anything – which is a huge privacy concern and something we are not willing to do," Karras told a local news station.
For years, the ATF has allowed the unregistered sale of 80 percent lower receivers made of aluminum. Aluminum lowers require machine tools and a special bracket to mill out the trigger pocket, drill trigger and selector holes and install the components to make the rifle actually function. Recently, some companies have manufactured AR-15 lower receivers made of a special polymer blend that requires only basic tools such as a drill press and Dremel tool to complete the manufacturing procedure.
Aside from the impact on Ares' business and other parts stores that sell the polymer lowers, which are manufactured by California-based EP Armory, thousands of customers who thought they were buying lowers that complied with the ATF's previous rulings on unfinished firearms are now left in legal limbo, afraid they're soon to be targeted by the agency.
A court hearing has been set for March 20 where a judge will hear arguments from the ATF and Ares Armor over how the lower receivers were made and what justification the agency had for its raids.
"We wholeheartedly believe that [the ATF] are WRONG in their actions and we will be relentlessly pursuing remedy through the courts," Ares said in statement.