Stag Arms is a relatively well-known AR-15 manufacturer with a big presence in the 3-gun community. So it was a bit of a shock when word came that the ATF had seized 3,000 of their AR-15 rifle lower receivers over a legal compliance issue that’s usually covered in the first five minutes of any “Gun Industry 101” class. The complaint from the ATF alleges that these thousands of lower receivers were just lying around the shop completely un-serialized, which is a huge mistake if true. Stag’s answer to the ATF on that allegation doesn’t fill me with confidence . . .
From the Hartford Business Journal:
During a routine inspection of Stag Arm’s facilities in August, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives found a large cache of receivers — the part of the gun that houses the trigger and firing mechanism — without serial numbers, which is a violation of the National Firearms Act.
The ATF returned to Stag in October to seize the gun parts, as well as documents, photos, and personnel records that could relate to any illegal activity at the New Britain company including unauthorized trafficking of guns, according to a search warrant filing made by ATF Special Agent Joanna Lambert.
On May 6, the U.S. Attorney asked the U.S. District Court for Connecticut to allow the federal government to permanently keep the seized guns. As of May 14, Stag did not reply to that civil filing.
In August, Stag Arms claimed two separate reasons for the missing serial numbers: the employee who normally engraves the numbers was on vacation, and the unserialized gun parts were sometimes used as replacements for ones that came off the line broken, according to documents filed by the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. Either way, both reasons given by Stag Arms would violate federal law, the U.S. Attorney wrote, because all gun parts must be stamped with serial numbers within seven days of their manufacture.
In a highly regulated business like the gun industry, you really need to dot every I and cross every ‘t’. Wilson Combat, for example, adds in a serialization routine to the CNC machine program that pokes the final hole in the frame completing the 1911 firearm. That guarantees that every firearm has a serial number nearly the instant it legally becomes a firearm. The idea that a major manufacturer would have thousands — thousands — of firearms just lying around the shop without a serial number for an indeterminate amount of time is mind-boggling.
“Our serial number guy was on vacation”? Seriously? That’s the excuse for breaking a fundamental rule of firearms manufacturing? As ridiculous as that is, it’s still a better excuse than “We use these to replace broken ones,” which indicates that their violation of the law was willful and pre-meditated instead of a one-off occurrence.
Stay tuned for more information.