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ATF files opposition motion to TRO in Ares Armor case

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives filed a motion Monday morning in the United States District Court, Southern District of California, in opposition to Ares Armor’s motion for temporary restraining order, adding to a developing story that unfolded dramatically over the weekend with raids on the gun parts distributor’s facilities. The initial TRO was ordered last Tuesday.

The government justifies its position claiming they are “conducting a lawful criminal investigation of the illegal manufacture, distribution, sale and possession of AK-15 [sic] variant lower receivers, which are considered firearms under the Firearms Control Act...”

Such an assumption is not backed by a ruling or determination that so-called “80 percent receivers,” heretofore acknowledged by ATF not to be firearms, are now considered unregistered guns. The Ares Armor complaint for deprivation of civil rights, declaratory and injunctive relief documented, “machining operations that cannot be performed,” and the EP Armory lowers in question appear compliant (see photo accompanying this column).

Much of the government’s protestations read more like hurt feelings, accusing Ares of “lulling“ them with pledges of cooperation while then having the nerve to seek counsel to protect company and customer interests. The people doing the raid, seizing property and data, and smashing things with sledgehammers are portraying themselves as victims here.

They go on to argue that Ares Armor had no legitimate cause to seek injunctive relief and is unlikely to succeed on merits, that adequate legal remedies exist to preclude claiming irreparable harm and that “the public interest weighs strongly against enjoining ATF’s investigation.” The government concludes by moving that the court deny a TRO and/or preliminary injunction.

Why opposition to the continuation of the restraining order is needed is unclear, as the raid allowed by a Friday order preventing Ares from divesture of property and records, and provided for “lawful criminal proceedings” to go forward. That would appear to make this latest action moot, at least to non-lawyers. A detail pointed out by a legal source is that the case number for the TRO issued on March 11 shows initials for both the district judge (JLS/Janis L. Sammartino) and a magistrate judge (BLG). Per page three of DOJ’s filing this morning, the search warrant against Ares Armor was issued by Judge Bernard G. Skomal, which again, to non-attorneys, appears curious, if not potentially conflicting.

In order to provide as complete and current coverage as unfolding developments allow, Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman and St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner Kurt Hofmann have also filed exclusive insights and updates today.

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