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Court restrains ATF from seizing Ares Armor inventory and customer records

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The United States District Court, Southern California District granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to stay a planned raid on an Oceanside gun parts supplier and seizing of its inventory and customer records. The planned action was due to the company providing the public with heretofore legal so-called “80 percent lower receivers,” unfinished gun parts that must be further processed by the purchasers in order to result in a legally-defined “firearm.”

The planned raid on Ares is part of an investigation that resulted in a raid on the receiver manufacturer, EP Armory, a story reported Monday by St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner Kurt Hofmann.

The order is the result of a motion filed Tuesday by Ares Armor for a temporary injunction, directly naming ATF Director B. Todd Jones as a defendant “in his Official Capacity as Head of The San Diego ATF Field Office,” citing that “Ares Armor is likely to succeed on the merits ... The ATF’s planned seizure violates the Fourth Amendment [and] The ATF mischaracterizes ‘EP 80 percent lower receivers’ as firearms as a pretense to seize customer information,” among the reasons.

“Ares Armor has standing to sue on behalf of itself and its customers,” the motion further claims, noting “In the absence of a preliminary injunction, Ares Armor will suffer irreparable harm.

“Ares Armor is under immediate threat of having their customers’ personal information and its legal goods being seized by the ATF,” the introduction to the motion explained. “Agents from the San Diego ATF office are scheduled to arrive Wednesday March 12th , 2014 at 11:00 a.m. to demand Ares Armor hand over its customer list and turn over roughly $300,000 in inventory of EP Armory polymer 80 percent lower receivers. Said meeting was set upon the CEO of Ares Armor, Dimitrios Karris, learning that if it did not agree to the BATFE’s terms that all of the Ares Armor facilities would be raided and criminal charges would be brought against the Ares Armor staff.

“If it does not comply ATF agents plan to simply seize the private information of thousands of law abiding Americans along with roughly $300,000 in legal inventory,” the introduction elaborated. “As shown in the various parts of this motion and its accompanying filings, the BATFE is intentionally misinterpreting Federal law in an attempt to coerce Ares Armor to hand over the private information of thousands of law abiding Americans. Immediate judicial intervention is desperately needed to preserve the civil rights of both Ares Armor and its customers.”

Along with the motion for TRO, Ares Armor filed a complaint for deprivation of civil rights, again naming Jones as defendant, that establish the receivers they carry cannot legally be defined as firearms according to ATF’s own determinations specifying several machining operations that must be performed first and that have not been done on what EP and Ares sell.

Ares Armor has established a “timeline of events” with relevant links, including their CEO’s declaration and an embedded Fox 5 News report on the injunction halting the ATF raid. The “problem,” according to Fox, is that the receivers “show the person building it exactly where to drill, making it easier and cheaper.”

What’s unclear, as this correspondent speculated on The War on Guns blog on Monday, is if there is any connection between these latest actions by ATF and a February 27 action in Sacramento in which two brothers suspected of being illegal aliens "were charged ... with making hundreds of illegal, untraceable firearms as part of what law enforcement officials said was a wide-ranging network designed to skirt federal laws [and that] the men allowed individuals to buy the parts and turn them into illegal weapons in assembly-line fashion using affiliated machine shops.”

This column will report when ATF files its response and when further court actions become known.

IMPORTANT UPDATE (3/15): ATF accuses Ares Armor of illegal gun sales in response to restraining order.

IMPORTANT UPDATE (3/16):

Get the details the mainstream media has neither the capability nor any intention of bringing you. See Warrant application shows Ares Armor referenced in wider investigation.

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