Our friends at the ATF simply can’t wait for a Biden inauguration in January. They’ve been licking their regulatory chops, getting ready for crackdowns they’ve been planning on pistol braces and home build kits — alleged ghost guns — for months, anticipating a Trump defeat.
Now that it seems they’ll be getting the change of administrations they’ve been silently cheering on, they’re wasting no time. Yesterday ATF agents executed a raid on Nevada-based Polymer80, one of the largest makers of 80% lowers and pistol frames.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The raid target, Nevada-based Polymer80, is suspected of illegally manufacturing and distributing firearms, failing to pay taxes, shipping guns across state lines and failing to conduct background investigations, according to an application for a search warrant unsealed Thursday after the raid took place.
The probe focuses on Polymer80’s “Buy Build Shoot Kit,” which includes the parts to build a “ghost” handgun. The kit, which Polymer80 sells online, meets the definition of a firearm, ATF investigators determined according to the warrant application. That means it would have to be stamped with a serial number and couldn’t be sold to consumers who haven’t first passed a background check.
It appears that the ATF may have once again changed their definition of a firearm and now considers Polymer80’s Buy Build Shoot kit the equivalent of a firearm, requiring serialization and a transfer through an FFL.
The ATF previously gave Polymer80 permission to sell unfinished receivers. But the Buy Build Shoot Kits, which are advertised as having “all the necessary components to build a complete…pistol” weren’t submitted to the agency for approval, according to the application for the search warrant. These kits can be “assembled into fully functional firearms in a matter of minutes,” the warrant application says.
Uh huh. If there’s nothing in the box that’s legally a “firearm,” why submit it for approval? If the frame still qualifies under the ATF’s definition of an 80% firearm — with no serial number or transfer required — it’s not clear how selling the frame as part of a kit, along with the other parts necessary to complete a build, would change the legal status of the kit as a whole.
Then again, legal niceties have never been the ATF’s strong suit. They’ve shown themselves to be more than willing to change their definitions and rules on the fly, manufacturers and buyers be damned.
We’ve asked Polymer80 for a comment on yesterdays festivities, but have not heard back yet. This likely won’t be the last of these actions by the ATF as we get closer to regime change in D.C.
UPDATE Polymer80 has given TTAG the following statement:
Over the past few years, and at the present time, Polymer80 has had numerous contacts from federal, state, and local law enforcement officials across the country. In each such instance, when properly and lawfully so approached, Polymer80 has expended best efforts to fully cooperate with law enforcement. When and as appropriate, the company will continue to do so.
This practice is consistent with Polymer80’s hard-earned reputation as an industry leader and responsible corporate citizen. Indeed, the company takes its legal obligations seriously, just as it does its treasured and fruitful relationships with its customers and independent dealers.
In short, Polymer80 is committed to discharging all of its responsibilities and duties as to them, as well as vigorously protecting its rights under the law. We will continue to monitor all developments as they arise.