If you’ll remember, despite a restraining order to prevent it, the ATF executed a search warrant on San Diego gun parts retailer Ares Armor in March during which their computers and sales records were seized. What chapped the ATF’s hide was Ares sales of 80% polymer lowers that the regulators reckoned were illegal and they wanted to know who had purchased them. Since then owner Dimitrios Karras has been fighting the battle in the courts and according to their web site, they’ve won round one by getting their hands on the affidavit on which the ATF based their request for a search warrant. Ares’ statement on the matter after the jump . . .

Our first confrontation with the ATF in the court room has come to a close with us standing victorious. We are now in possession of the Affidavit used to obtain a search warrant against our company.

We now have the proof we so desperately needed that the ATF intentionally deceived a Magistrate Judge with insidious intent. We will be filing our next suit against the ATF soon. Our aim is to recover our damages and most importantly to get a Federal Court order that forces the ATF to destroy all stolen information from our computer systems!

We have been literally putting every penny we make into this legal fight. I AM COMMITTED TO THIS FIGHT TILL THE END! I have cut my own salary to less than minimum wage to help pay our legal bills. If you need anything from our store, we could really use the support!

My heart goes out to the Magistrate who was deceived by the ATF. To be the victim of trickery is a terrible feeling that I think all of us can relate to.

Allow me to point your attention to just a couple of their deceptions that we have found in our initial review of the document. There are most likely many more. To make this easier to read, quotes from the ATF’s affidavit will be in RED and quotes from outside sources will be in BLUE.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #1 READILY CONVERTED APPLIES TO FRAME OR RECEIVER

III. TECHNICAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION, Page 3, Item 9

Definition of a “Firearm”

9.  A “firearm” is “any weapon…Which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3)(A). This definition includes “the frame or receiver of any such weapon,” 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3)(B)…

The above is a clear cut case of leaving a small little portion out to mislead the reader. The ATF’s goal in this first example of deception is to lead the Judge into believing that the term “may readily be converted” applies to “frame or receiver.” The ATF knows full well that the readily converted clause does not apply to a frame or receiver.   Take careful note of the … after the term any weapon. The law has (including a starter gun) in that gap.  This is an important inclusion as that demonstrates exactly why that language was placed into the law.

In Jason Davis’ Letter to the ATF Dated July 20, 2013 this is fully explained:

As noted, the term “firearm” means a “weapon…which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile,” and also “the frame or receiver of any such weapon.” (18 U.S.C. §921 (a)(3).) Both the “designed” definition and the “may readily be converted” definition apply to a weapon that expels a projectile, not to a frame or receiver. A frame or receiver is not a “weapon,” will not and is not designed to expel a projectile, and may not readily be converted to expel a projectile.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #2 80% RECEIVERS CAN BE “READILY ASSEMBLED”

III. TECHNICAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION, Page 3, Item 9

Definition of a “Firearm”

…“any combination of parts either designed or intended” from which a firearm can be “readily assembled.” 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(4)(C). A “receiver under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3)(B) includes a “lower receiver.”

This time the ATF misleads the Judge into believing that “readily assembled” applies to “lower receiver.” Yet again, this is a slick attempt to change definitions in the law.

Again in Jason Davis’ Letter to the ATF Dated July 20, 2013 this is also fully explained:

The Gun Control Act recognizes the distinction between “Assembly and “fabrication.” (Compare 18 U.S.C. §921(a)(29) (defining “handgun” in part as “any combination of parts from which a firearm described in subparagraph (A) can be assembled”) with §921 (a)(24) (referring to “any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler” (emphasis added.).) The term “assemble” means “to fit or join together (the parts of something, such as a machine): to assemble the parts of a kit.”…The term “fabricate” is broader, as it also synonymous with manufacture: “to make, build, or construct.” … Thus, drilling, milling, and other machining would constitute fabrication, but assembly more narrowly means putting together parts already fabricated.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #3 IMPLIES THAT FINISHING AN 80% IS UNLAWFUL!

III. TECHNICAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION, Page 7, Item 16 and 17

16. In the case of this investigation, manufacturers are creating Kevlar reinforced polymer variant lower receiver with certain cavities filled by different colored polymer…These variant lower receivers are made functional through the use of specialized tools…These are fairly simple and affordable hand tools…are readily available at most hardware/home improvement stores.

17. Using either a drill press or a hand drill, the equipment operator drills, cuts, or mills cavities in specific locations on the AR-15 variant lower receiver. Compare the AR-15 variant receiver depicted below left with the AR-15 lower depicted below right.

 

In this false statement the Judge is shown how a “variant” receiver is not a firearm prior to milling. However, he is not informed that milling the receiver is in fact a lawful thing to do. As a matter of fact, the ATF intentionally leaves out that important detail in the entirety of the Affidavit. Additionally, please take note of the image which shows the milled 80% Receiver to be now classified as a firearm. This will be important in DECEPTIVE STATEMENT NUMBER #8 where they say that ALL receivers legally must be serialized.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #4 VARIANT RECEIVER AND PLUG ARE NOT STUCK TOGETHER

III. TECHNICAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION, Page 9, Page 10, Item 19

…the receiver and plug being [SIC] are formed in such a way that they are not adhered to each other. As such, the plug can be removed and the firearm can readily be placed into a firing condition.

Firstly, the above grammar mistake demonstrates the speed and sloppy work that was put in their document. Secondly, this statement is a flat out lie. The ATF was at the time in possession of THOUSANDS of “variant receivers” from EP Armory and could have verified the incorrectness of this statement with ease. The plastic melts together during production and becomes scientifically one piece.

In my Letter to B. Todd Jones Dated April 8th, 2014 this is fully explained:

As he has explained to me, he uses the same polymer compound for both the “biscuit” and for the outer portion of his product. This causes the polymers to bond to one another and form a “single piece of material.” This means that the fire-control cavity, although differently colored, is in fact integral to the item. Therefore; the fire-control “cavity” has NOT been created.

What is also interesting about this statement is that it leads the reader to believe that the plug is not stuck to the variant lower and could be readily placed into a firing condition. For these receivers to be placed into a firing condition it would require not just ASSEMBLY but in addition, require FABRICATION. This statement nudges at the idea that the plug could be removed by hand and that the firearm ONLY requires ASSEMBLY, which is again false.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #5 INDEXING MARKS MAGICALLY TURN BLOCK OF MATERIAL INTO A FIREARM

III. TECHNICAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION, Page 10, Item 19

ATF has consistently held that the indexing of the fire-control-cavity [SIC] of the AR-type receiver (or any of the mounting pin holes of the fire-control-components [SIC]) is the same as if it were formed, and thus, constitutes the making of a firearm frame or receiver as defined by 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3)(A).

Not only is this deception in conflict with previous statements from the FTB but I would like to direct your attention to the UNITED STATES v. PRINCE. The ATF has already lost the “indexing marks” argument in Federal Court. Please read the following:

“The court finds that the metal flat shipped to Prince is not a firearm.   The court carefully considered the expert testimony of Agent Adam Galbraith, and reviewed the material submitted by the government concerning ATF opinions.   However, the court simply does not believe that a flat piece of metal with laser perforations and holes constitutes a “receiver,” i.e., a “firearm.”   Rather, the flat piece of metal is somewhat akin to a piece of paper with lines drawn on it as a guide to make a paper airplane.   Although making the paper airplane might be the intended use, it is not an airplane until it is properly folded.   Until that time, it is a patterned piece of paper.   Simply put, this court has no evidentiary or legal basis for holding that a flat piece of metal with laser perforations and some holes constitutes, ultimately, a “firearm.”” http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-10th-circuit/1506044.html

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #6 INADVERTENTLY ADMITS THAT THE VARIANT LOWERS TAKEN ARE IN FACT NOT FIREARMS THIRTEEN SEPARATE TIMES

III. TECHNICAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION, Page 6, Item 15

These terms developed based on the perception that the piece of aluminum, metal or polymer was 80% of a firearm, and therefore unregulated by the ATF…For ease of communication, the items described above will be referred to hereafter as AR-15 variant lower receivers or simply variant lower receivers.

The ATF made a point to define the term AR-15 variant lower receiver and variant lower receiver as being in reference to a precursor receiver that would not be considered to be a firearm for the purpose

of this Affidavit. During their probable cause argument they actually admit that the lowers in our possession are NOT firearms and are NOT regulated multiple times. SEE BELOW.

IV. PROBABLE CAUSE, Page 10, Page 11, Item 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29

ARES ARMOR was a dealer of AR-15 variant lower receivers for EP Armory…ARES ARMOR had been purchasing “variant lower receivers”…for the purchase of 1,700 “EP80” variant casting lowers…for the purchase of 2,325 “EP80” variant casting lowers…for the purchase of  4,000 “EP80” variant casting lowers… FTB determination regarding the variant lower receivers…ATF determined that the variant lower receivers… remove the polymer variant lower receivers…currently in possession of the “EP80” polymer variant lower receivers…accept the forfeiture of the “EP80” variant lower receivers…in addition to the “EP80” variant lower receivers…sales records for any “EP80” variant lower receivers…surrender an estimated 4000 polymer variant lower receivers…regarding the surrender of the polymer variant lower receivers.

Enough said… We agree with them. The variant lowers are not firearms.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #7 FAILS TO MENTION OFFER OF SAFEGUARDS

IV. PROBABLE CAUSE, Page 12, Item 33

…ATF was concerned about the safe storage of the items until the matter regarding the TRO could be resolved. KARRAS stated the Agents were welcome to stop by, and he would show them the storage location.

The ATF was offered the ONLY keys to the room where the variant lowers were stored and also they were offered access to our camera system to ensure that we would not divest ourselves of the product. THEY REFUSED THE OFFER! They fail to mention this in their Affidavit.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #8 MISREPRESENTATION OF FEDERAL LAW IN REGARDS TO SERIAL NUMBERS

IV. PROBABLE CAUSE, ATTACHMENT B Page 16, Item 45

Federal law also requires that both intact guns and ALL completed lower receivers must be “Conspicuously engraved, cast or stamped” with a serial number to a depth of no less than .003” and a font size not less than 1/16[SIC] of an inch. Because 80% lower receivers do not constitute “complete” lower receivers, they are void of serial number and markings that would normally be required for their sale and distribution. (Emphasis added)

This is a flat out lie. The ATF knows this is a lie. A lower receiver that is homebuilt carries no requirement of serialization as the lawful fabricator does not have an agreement with the government to place a serial number on his hobby gun.  SEE PICTURE IN FALSE STATEMENT #3.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #9 ARES ARMOR WILLFULLY ENGAGED IN THE BUSINESS OF SELLING FIREARMS WITHOUT A LICENSE.  

VI. CONCLUSION, Page 22

Based on the foregoing, there is probably cause to believe that Title 18 United States Code, Sections 922(a)(1)(A),922(t), and 371 have been violated…

The Supreme Court has ruled that for a violation of 922(a)(1)(A) to be punishable the suspect must have WILLFULLY broken the law. The ATF knows that Ares Armor has not willfully broken any laws.

“[HN7] A person acts willfully if he acts intentionally and purposely and with the intent to do something the law forbids, that is, with the bad purpose to disobey or to disregard the law. Now, the person need not be aware of the specific law or rule that his conduct may be violating. But he must act with the intent to do something that the law forbids.” SILLASSE BRYAN, PETITIONER v. UNITED STATES

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #10 ARES ARMOR IS ENGAGED IN THE BUSINESS OF SELLING FIREARMS 

VI. CONCLUSION, Page 22

Based on the foregoing, there is probably cause to believe that Title 18 United States Code, Sections 922(a)(1)(A),922(t), and 371 have been violated…

To be charged with 922(t) one would have to be engaged in the business of selling firearms. Ares Armor is not a licensed FFL and has never been engaged in the business of selling firearms.

 

DECEPTIVE STATEMENT #11 ARES ARMOR CONSPIRED TO BREAK LAWS THAT THEY DID NOT BREAK 

VI. CONCLUSION, Page 22

Based on the foregoing, there is probably cause to believe that Title 18 United States Code, Sections 922(a)(1)(A),922(t), and 371 have been violated…

If we have not willfully broken 922(a)(1)(A), and it is impossible for us to have broken 922(T), then how is it even remotely possible that we conspired to do the same?

 

THE REAL REASONS FOR THE RAID

#1 The ATF threatened and extorted us. When we filed the restraining order against them, they weaseled out of it and then vindictively raided us instead of simply waiting a couple of days for the hearing in court.

#2 The ATF has a now demonstrable propensity of “court dodging” in regards to this case. Every time something is filed against them, they have made steps to “moot” the case before a hearing so as to make themselves a moving target that can’t be pinned down. First, they did so with the search warrant to avoid the preliminary injunction. Then, they did so by cancelling the forfeiture proceeding to avoid unsealing the Affidavit. Now, they have released this affidavit to avoid the risk of having a decision published that would essentially remove their ability to terrorize innocent people and then keep the supporting documents sealed for an indefinite period of time.

#3 The ATF was embarrassed by the publicity that they received once the TRO had been granted and punitively raided us in an attempt to keep us silent about their evil doing.

 

Thank you all so much for your support! I could not have gotten this far without your help. I cannot even express how grateful I am. I can promise you, I will continue this fight to the very end!

Special message for Director of ATF, B. Todd Jones:

Looks like your hand waiving mind tricks only works on members of Congress and not the Courts.   Better luck next time POG.

45 Responses to Ares Armor Wins Round One in Battle With ATF Over 8045 Lower Sales Records

  1. I hope Ares wins everything. Have dealt with them personal and they seem to be good people.

    I can’t afford it but I’m going to find a way to contribute to their legal fund.

    • I’ll probably visit these guys, should be down in the area for a bit. Hope they take them down in court, this kind of thuggery and perjury should not be tolerated. The ATF has proven time and time again that the government cannot be trusted with this level of control. They are not only incompetent, their very existence is an affront to the Constitution itself.

  2. Yet another reason why the ATF shouldn’t be trusted with an actual registry.
    “Oh sir, we just needed to take your entire firearms collection, along with all ammunition and firearm accessories to check the serial number of one firearm. You can expect to see your property in a few years.”

    • “Oh sir, we just needed to take your entire firearms collection, along with all ammunition and firearm accessories to check the serial number of one firearm. You can expect to see your property in a few years.”

      more like “…a few years past never.”

    • And, even if the ATF loses in this case, the criminals cannot be trusted to destroy the illegally seized records. Every agent involved in this, all the way up the director, needs to do some time for this. As always, laws do not stop criminals. Only locking them up effectively protects innocent people.

  3. Meh, I know the atf is wrong on this because you can’t just build a functional firearm off the lower as it came from ares. It’s a much more pita than assembling from a stripped lower and arguably more difficult that finishing an aluminum lower (assuming you have the right tools, like a mill) but these aren’t the most convincing arguments. They’re really condescending and he spends most of this statement cherry picking phrases rather than actually attempting to refute their logic (or lack thereof).

    • Umm, he was showing how THE ATF was cherry-picking phrases to get around the restraining order. Sort of like-

      Law says-
      “It is not illegal to manufacture a firearm at home for personal use.”

      ATF quotes above law-
      “It is…illegal to manufacture a firearm at home…”

    • The Constitution restricts government, not citizens. Should this happen to you, are you going do defend your rights or are you going to capitulate? I am talking about any of our rights.

  4. Our aim is to recover our damages and most importantly to get a Federal Court order that forces the ATF to destroy all stolen information from our computer systems!

    From experience, what you must demand from the court is for the ATF to provide to you written evidence and independent certification that they have destroyed all seized data, files, lists, copies and products derived directly or indirectly therefrom, including all data, files, lists and products located on or copied from or to any other system or format.

    That should preclude them having a printout or list on a floppy squirreled away anywhere, including a non-ATF system or a contractor system. It should also include any names or addresses that were included in reports or watch lists. Sorta like a thermonuclear FOIA Request.

    Their duplicity just boggles my mind. Ralph, did they not perjure themselves? And did I leave any stones unturned?

    • Good idea, but how can anyone truly verify that copies of the records do not exists on some secret server somewhere? Criminals cannot be trusted. Don’t get me wrong, It’s still important to fight them to make a statement.

  5. How terrifying, that the government can harass us in this way. Based on what I’ve read here, they are trying to force the “ghost gun” law into effect on a federal level, independently of the required legislative process. They basically gave the judge a letter that said “look, building guns SHOULD be banned, so these f*ing pricks HAVE to be doing SOMETHING illegal,” and the judge was game enough to say “yeah, you’ll DEFINITELY find something…” What other activities will our government decide they do not approve of, and suddenly start throwing subpoenas and search warrants at?

  6. This is all good but de leon’s SB808 seems to be on it’s way to being made law – the only thing that will stop it’s progress is if moonbeam steps in with a veto. Failing that all that was and all that ever shall be will be serialized and recorded. >shakes tiny fist of rage<

    • One of the more bizarre aspects of the Ghost Gun bill is that it is retroactive so as to require serialization and registration of ALL homebuilt firearms, irrespective of date of manufacture, notwithstanding the fact that any rifle, AR style otherwise, purchased prior to January 1, 2014 through an FFL is not registered with the DOJ at all. (Prior to that date, the Dealer Record of Sale simply said long gun or shotgun, but did not contain any serial numbers, manufacturer, etc.)

  7. And the District Attorney will be issuing an indictment for material perjury on officer’s of BATFE in …5…4…3….2… Nah, just kidding.

  8. Ares has stated publicly before that ATF started requesting ares’ customer lists a year before the raid. They knew several days before the raid that ATF was on a bender going after those customer lists, but still that info was in the store and left vulnerable.

    I hope Ares wins in court, but I won’t give them any credit for “protecting” anyones privacy, because they didn’t.

    Not a lawyer, but the arguments posted don’t seem to hold much water anyway. Ares sold a product without a determination letter, and when they were quizzed specifically about a determination letter, they deflected the question.

    The one argument they never raised, regarding the “indexing” marks on the receivers – was that on many of the parts they shipped, the indexing marks were in the wrong farcking place. Lots of animus and very long threads on Calguns discussing this.

    • Ya, that was the part I didn’t get. Since those were not firearms, then no physical paper record required and therefore mine would have been data and that data would have been encrypted all to hell. Oh, you want the data, there it is. Oh, you want me to unencrypt it? Gee, I think you are going to need to talk to my lawyer about that. Once they have your customer list you can be sure they will NEVER give up all copies, no matter what they tell a judge and so matter what “independent” investigator looks into it.

        • The nice thing about that is that if they use any part of the list in the future it will “poison” anything they try to do with it. Immediate self-destruction. And possible perjury. The [essentially] “stolen” data becomes a ticking time bomb for them.

    • They had never done anything illegal before. The ATF’s surprise out of nowhere change of policy on 80% lowers is why the ATF wanted to confiscate their property and customer sales lists.
      Removing the lists from the store/hiding them would have been illegal, and given the ATF grounds to prosecute them. What you are saying they should have done makes their entire legal argument (that the ATF is wrong and has illegally confiscated their property and sensitive customer data) weakened.

      • Why would it be illegal to conceal records of the sales of non-guns from somebody you got a court injunction against?

        Anything in an FFL’s bound book has retention rules, but sales records for barrels, grips, 80% lowers and other parts not required to be serialized?

        • When you know, or have reason to believe any piece of information may become involved in a lawsuit, any tampering with that information can be destruction/obstruction. Aeres has been conversing with the ATF over these records for over a year. Any attempt to hide or destroy these records after the fact would harm Aeres in any potential future court case EVEN if the records were inconsequential to the ruling. Its similar to Martha Steward doing prison time for perjury while being exonerated of insider trading. Aeres could have won the fight on the premise of the ATF not having any regulatory authority, but still be in trouble of withholding evidence.
          It is the reality of our justice system. Just like an officer can arrest you for ANYTHING, but it won’t stick if it’s not a valid law, Aeres hands were tied. The only way they would have been fine was if there policy was not to retain customer records at all before any interaction with the ATF. In today’s society of credit cards transactions, that is probably not even a viable policy.

    • Karras is an idiot who should STFU and let his lawyer do his talking for him. Fortunately, he has a good one. Anything he says in public “can and will be used against him in a court of law”—his postings are no different than talking to the police in person.

      • And if he has been conferring with his lawyer who approves of his interactions with the public is he still an idiot?

        • Lawyers never recommend that their clients, particularly in a criminal matters, talk to the press. Anything the client says can be used against him, while the same is not true for the attorney. Further, the flavor of the post is all Karras and not his well-known gun rights attorney Michel (or his minions). Karras’ antics have already cost him one attorney, and if he keeps it up, he might lose another.

        • This statement was sent through our legal team before publication. We are in the right and are not afraid to show the public the merits of this case as it goes through the system…

  9. ARES is now poised to bring down the thugs of ATF. With the dedication and determination of Ares, they will win. Somehow, not only will I, but I will work to convince my extended family, friends, and neighbors to take part in this by purchasing various items from Ares. Ares is not only doing great work for themselves but for us all at the same time. Set the precedent, establish the truth,

    • He may win, but bring down the ATF? Umm, no. If Fast & Furious didn’t stop their antics, nothing will, absent congressional action to confine the scope of their authority.

  10. I love how they don’t flat out ask for money but state: ” If you need anything from our store, we could really use the support!”

    That is righteous right there!

    • Well yeah…that is pretty f**cking righteous. No pleas for donations no paypal account for free money just an offer for services/goods in return for funds just like any other business. How can you have a problem with this? Do you imagine this guy will come out of this rich or something?

  11. “Rather, the flat piece of metal is somewhat akin to a piece of paper with lines drawn on it as a guide to make a paper airplane.   Although making the paper airplane might be the intended use, it is not an airplane until it is properly folded.   Until that time, it is a patterned piece of paper.”

    i kind of love this.

    • Just kind of? This is huge–a major aspect of the ATF’s attack on 80% lowers is their attempt to outlaw “indexing,” i.e., in any way marking locations for cutting or drilling on the unfinished lower. It is an issue in this case, as the manufacturer, EP Lowers, included raised nubs in the (approximate) location of the places to drill for the hammer and trigger pins and the safety switch, as well as the different colored plastic inside the (to be) fire control pocket.. Apparently ATF thinks that indexing makes it “too easy” for someone to manufacture a lower, and ease of manufacture is the same reason they went after businesses offering pre-programmed milling equipment for rent. This judge essentially throws that whole theory out the window.

  12. I love how he calls him a pog at the end. If I remember Ares is mostly vets right? Pog was a derogatory term for anyone who isn’t infantry, Personnel Other Than Grunt.

  13. I’d love to see this go to court and Ares hand Todd Jones (ATF director) one of their paperweights and a pair of pliers – then say to him, “Okay, show us how you remove this part you labelled a ‘plug’ and turn this piece of plastic into a firearm”.

  14. It is urged that before ordering any 80% lower receiver that you verify the manufacturer has been approved by the ATF/ FTB and meets this compliance. The manufacturer should be able to furnish you with a copy of their approval letter.

    As of August 21, 2014, James Madison Tactical LLC has received this ever so important determination letter from the ATF/FTB that our JMT 80 lower receiver is not classified as a firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3). The examination states that manufacturing operations have not been performed in the fire control section of the receiver blank and that the casting has not reached a point in the manufacturing process to be classified as a firearm.

    For more information regarding our JMT 80 lower receiver, visit our website: http://www.jamesmadisontactical.com

  15. Let’s not miss a main factor here. The fact that racizm still exists and always will is proved by who is in charge of the Executive Branch, the Department of Justice and the ATF. If there is still justice in America, that remains to be seen when these Commie Racists are in prison themselves..

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