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The ATF raid in National City, California has a lot of people worried. The company has sold 80 percent lowers to thousands of customers; buyers who assumed that the finished firearm would be untraceable. Unless Ares Armor destroyed their customer data, all of those weapons are now informationally compromised. Make the jump for another video of still images arranged into a timeline.


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  1. You would think they were raiding the HQ of the Cripps or something; I am surprised they didn’t find a random Dog to shoot.

    • Not sure what you think is so weird about it consider they’re going into a place basically made up of guns with mannequins wearing body armor in the front window. If the ATF reads the posts here (probably) they should be expecting bare-shirted M60-wielding “Molon Labeeee!” shouting gun owners to come out from every window any time they serve a warrant.

      Glad to see plenty of recording going on from citizens. Hopefully the store gets some good legal representation (which is not yet evidenced by the way they seemed to think that civil order full of loopholes would protect them).

    • Really. Would it have been better if some people died? I’m so sick of the nonsense going on in this country these days.

    • CO had verbiage allowing them to continue investigation into illegal activity.
      Whether that allowed them a work-around or if new evidence was developed – I don’t know.

      • Please see earlier post today. The ATF got a “clarification” of the order allowing them to obtain and execute warrants to obtain evidence and contraband. I would love to see the affidavit in support of the warrant–but I bet it is sealed to make it difficult for the defendants to know what they are being investigated for and what the evidence is against them. Also prevents the defendants from challenging the warrants in court.

    • Just to play devil’s advocate, imagine if every investigation into corruption of political officials could be ended by some small-time judge issuing a ‘protection’ order. This legal fight has to be had out, not avoided. I don’t see how an 80% lower can be held to be any more dangerous than a 75% lower, but logic isn’t always the best marker for how courts will find…

      • If corruption investigations could be derailed by a small time judge, they would be just like nearly every police shooting investigation that is derailed by the FOP and idiotic “LEO Bill of Rights” laws.

      • Hannibal, you are missing the whole point. All they want is a list of who bought the lowers. And that is exactly what they got. You can expect this to happen more & more. It is the only way they will know where to raid for purposes of confiscation.

      • Hannibal,
        Don’t get too caught up in the details. This is never about safety. It’s about control. If it were about safety, the ATF would be helping people get guns.

  2. These are ATF agents? LOL! They look like costumed clowns who took a wrong turn from the Gay Pride Parade!

  3. and so it begins. not with a loud bang. or a tank rumbling down the street. but with a small no knock raid. our rights are infringed slowly but surely. we must stand together or we will hang separately

    • They managed to get the TRO modified, Imagine that. They had the TRO modified so that they could raid for illegal activity and supplies. The only way to prove their point is to take it all and hope they find something. The problem is, they won’t find what they were looking for per the warrant, but instead they hit the gold mine by getting the list of everybody who bought a lower from Ares. That is what they wanted in the first place. When the ATF raided the Bakersfield manufacture of the lowers that are in question at Ares (EP Armory) they were proven to be wrong about the manufacturing of the lower. They (ATF) claim that the lower is manufactured as a weapon then changed back to 80%, when in fact the lower is never a weapon per the guidelines laid out by the ATF.

      • What this does is undermines the rule of law nationwide. If the ATF can change the rules to suit their purposes more and more citizens will stop following the law. When I read people say “so it begins” I see that as the recognition of an event that accelerates the deterioration of rule of law. Misuse of the law is undermining the foundation of law.

  4. Should have set a ton of legos out to make it really uncomfortable to walk OK. Or poor vegetable oil on tile and when these “operators” came in they could play circus music and have the greatest YouTube video ever

    • The idea that an 80% is a way to get a gun “The Man doesn’t know about” is foolish.
      You must serialize any firearm you build from parts – especially with a receiver you mill or bend from scratch.
      The ATF will be happy to demonstrate the consequences of not doing so – should you be seen with an unserialized firearm. It’s happened before.

      • Unfortunately, this is just factually wrong. You do not have to serialize/register (at least at the federal level, no idea about your specific jurisdiction) a gun you make for personal use.

      • FUD FUD FUD

        There is absolutely no requirement to serialize an 80% firearm that you make for your own personal use. Try and cite me the law stating otherwise.

      • No. A completed firearm from an 80% lower does not need to be serialized. DeLeon’s “ghost gun” video was a hysterical reaction to the fact that there is no law in CA requiring that 80% lowers or completed guns therefrom be serialized. Rest assured, CA is doing everything it can to eliminate this gun control loophole. And when it comes to gun control, nobody is on board more than the ATF.

  5. The ATF wants the customer list so they can arrest everyone they sold an 80% lower to, and charge them with having an unregistered firearm. And how can they prove it was legally obtained as an 80% lower when the feds have destroyed (hidden away never to be seen again) the records? This is simply a “terrorist” attack to prevent any other company from doing the same. All of this is my humble opinion of course.

    • Registration isn’t the issue. They are trying to get people for the illegal purchasing of a firearm without jumping through all the usual hoops. Since they decided to reclassify these particular polymer 80% lowers as firearms.

      And this is what happens with we have unelected bureaucrats making decisions that turn law abiding people into criminals. This is what it feels like to be a Canadian.

      (referencing the recent Sig 55x debacle, I have nothing against Canadians in general)

  6. Even if they “erased” every hard-drive of every computer used for their business, unless they actually hard deleted the data, that data is still recoverable. Ordinarily, when we “delete” files on our PCs, that space is simply made available for re-write, and it may take days, weeks, or even months for that data to be over-ridden by another file. They would need a program or a piece of hardware to physically change all of the binary language (“1s” and “0s”) to all zeroes, thus irrecoverably erasing the undesired data.

    Every person they sold a lower to throughout the country is now subject to an arrest by the rogue BATFE. I, on the other hand, bought mine privately from an individual, not a dealer, and there was no bill of sale. 😉

    • It isn’t good enough either to just replace all the bits with 1s or 0s. Because they are magnetic disks, old data can still be restored. In order to fully delete data, you need to do multiple random data passes over the entire hard drive. I believe that the Department of Energy standard is 6 passes of random data. Which takes 12-20hrs/terabyte, depending on your HDD write speed.

      The ATF definitely has the data they want.

        • That doesn’t make it impossible; in a lab they could still read almost all of the data off the disk. Many of the shards could contain multiple gigabytes of files in their entirety. (Sure, you can’t plug it into a computer to access it.) Even a DVD that has been microwaved for a few seconds has areas of undestroyed media in it large enough to contain entire files.

        • The only way I know of making sure, damn sure, data would not be recoverable, would be to burn the hard drives/disks. My hope would be that Ares Armor, knowing that the ATF wanted to raid them, removed all of their hard drives and data from their store before the raid and either burned or hid them.

      • Years ago I worked for a computer retailer and repair shop. We had an old 400MB hard drive the size of a large hardback book that had frustrated the hell out of a customer by deciding it would no longer retrieve any of his data.

        The drive was on permanent display in our front counter with a .44 magnum hole directly through it and a sign exhorting our customers to back up their data. I don’t think even the BATFE could have recovered the data from that drive.

        • You’d be surprised. There are methods that involve disassembling the drive and mounting & scanning the individual platters that could likely recover anything that was not in the immediate vicinity of the actual hole.

          The only reason that might not be true in the case of the drive you’re describing is its sheer size, and not having the equipment to work with something that large and archaic.

      • The six passes with random digits is actually information security standard set by NSA.

        When in doubt use a sledgehammer. That is what a friend of mine did to destroy a hard drive with Special Access data on it. He then turned over the pieces to the appropriate agency for final disposal.

        • Actually, sanding off the magnetic medium makes it VERY hard to read the disk data. In DoD land this is called “quick ‘n easy physical destruction.” I won a bet with the NSA over that in a former life.

          Oh, and if your friend used a sledge hammer to destroy SAP, he doesn’t know jack about physical destruction. Any competent lab could get the data back overnight.

    • In reality, a single write-over of data on a standard HDD is entirely sufficient to obliterate the information. The Gutmann Method ( ), where this needed multiple write-over misinformation stems from, is hogwash and overkill. Also, wiping information from an SSD only requires deleting it, no write-overs necessary. The fact that I know I will get slammed for posting this as being wrong is just a sign to how prevalent this urban legend has become. Having said that, if I weren’t as positive this was the case as I am, I would also advocate the .44 caliber “killer app” method.

      • See my comment above. Any competent lab could recover 1X overwrite (even with random characters) in about an hour. There’s a reason that things are done the way they are done by grownups, sonny.

        • I encourage anyone to whom this subject may be of any importance to merely investigate for themselves beyond what they just hear others repeat as fact. On the other hand, I wouldn’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to take the time to do that and just wants peace of mind their information is annihilated to go the whole nine yards and then some. Oh, also: take that condescending crap and shove it, pal.

        • You saying that bashing it to bits with a sledgehammer and it still has large amounts of recoverable data is a bit disingenuous. Maybe if the person hitting it does it with the drive flat, and only hits it once or twice, which would probably only break the platters into a few large pieces. However, if the drive is set on its side, or end, and smashed until being nearly unrecognizable, I’d say “good luck” to whoever thinks they are going to get a lot of useable data from those discs.

  7. it is beyond my comprehension that a chunk of aluminum is contraband. yet this bureau approved the slidefire and stabilizing brace. why do these people even have a say in what we are ALLOWED to own.

    furthermore, why the hell are there so many federal branches of bullshit? how many bureaus do we need? alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives.. those things have minor associations and none need much regulation. while we’re clusterfuching things together, why not have a bureau for Cats, Underwear, Nachos, and Tampons. surely this new bureau would be more necessary than the BATFE.

  8. this is against the law; local law enforcement seem to be involved in the illegal breaking and entering and possible seizure of property. hmmm this is throwing rocks at a hornets nest. it is just a matter of time before this invokes violence against the government.

    • If they got a warrant, they did not break the law when they went in, unless the warrant was obtained by lying to the judge who signed it. Is it ethical with or without a warrant? I would argue that it is not, and they really need to prove their opinion on why the type of lower they’re talking about is illegal before doing all this, but that is another issue. Both issues are important.

      The unfortunate thing is that since ATF defines a lot of firearms related terms, it is easier than it should be for them to define their way into a warrant. I would be a lot happier if bureaucrats in any agency had to submit their proposals and findings to an elected legislative body for approval, and thereby be at least somewhat accountable to the public.

      None of this will change unless the electorate starts to care enough to tear down the federal bureaucracy. Not just the armed agencies, but all of them that don’t have specific language in the Constitution which justify their existence.

      • Sounds like a job for Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. There’s no way that Christie or Hillary would endeavor to limit government. We have way too many statist politicians.

  9. The FUD in the comments here is strong. ATF isn’t going after 80% lowers, they’re going after a specific lower that ATF believes is a firearm, and not a non-firearm. The way to make sure this doesn’t happen to new manufacturers is to submit a sample for a determination.

    Saying this proves ATF is going after 80% lowers is ridiculous. TTAG isn’t helping dispel the FUD either. Maybe that’s intentional, I dunno. But there’s a story about a boy crying “wolf” that comes to mind. You might want to review that, Mr. Farago. You’re fanning the flames of ignorance, not getting gun owners up in arms for a common cause.

    • they’re going after a specific lower that ATF believes is a firearm, and not a non-firearm

      No. They making sh1t up as they go along, and you don’t get it at all. COMMENT MODERATED

    • You do realize that we are talking about the same bunch that orchestrated Fast & Furious, Waco, Ruby Ridge, and this latest Milwaukee incident? These guys drive off with full auto machine guns on top of their cars like they were cokes. Why on earth would you trust this organization in any way, shape, or form? I’d like to know ‘cuz I’ve got a bridge to sell ya.

    • I looked and looked for their letter of determination. Here is what I found:

      On Calguns, a forum member asked about ATF approval. Here was their response:

      Good Question. We have been in continuous contact with BATFE. They have been to our offices; we have sat down with them and shown them our product and it has met with their approval as a non-firearm. There requirement as expressed to us is that no part of the fire control area can be can be milled.

      ‘Dimpled’ locations: We approached BATFE with our design before it was produced to ensure we where not over stepping the law. We got approval at that time for our original product. In recent weeks it has come to our attention that there have been other instances with machined metal lowers where BATFE had ruled that dimples placed by initial drilling at trigger pin and fire control locations constituted a complete hole and therefore are not allowed. In our product dimpled locations come through the injection molding process and are in no way drilled. Although BATFE has approved this method we felt in light of other rulings it would be prudent to avoid dimpling all together. Current production lowers feature exverted raised areas at hole locations with a dimple centered on top of them and away from the plane of the external fire control area. Simply center a drill bit on top and drill through cutting away the extra material.

      Later in the thread, a retailer (NewFrontierArmory) asked again about ATF approval. EPLowers private messaged New Frontier Armory instead of replying directly in the thread.

      It doesn’t look like New Frontier Armory ever ended up carrying EPLower’s 80% lower. Perhaps the result of that PM was unsatisfactory to them.

      Here’s the thread:

  10. why would you need to get an account there to buy an 80% lower? do they take names/addresses at time of purchase? if its a cash sale doubt they’d do that. If that was me I’d delete that shit and give them the finger.

    • I can’t speak for Ares in particular, but the whole “you have to have an account to place an order” thing has gotten more prevalent in recent years; pick a random e-commerce site and you’re less likely to get a “guest” checkout option.

      My guess would be it’s because an account establishes an ongoing “business relationship” with you as a customer, so it’s easier to spam you and the do-not-call list doesn’t kick in unless a year goes by AND you tell them to delete your account.

      I tend to doubt it’s malicious or suspicious, other than the above.

      But then I’m cynical.

      • In some cases the claim is made that by providing your full details, they can prevent someone from later stealing your card number and having the company ship stuff to their address instead of yours. Since they have your address on file, their software says “hey, what’s going on here.”

        I’ve run afoul of this simply because I have people ship stuff to where I work (which means no online ammo purchases for me), and *that* tends to change every time the government or the economy hiccups.

        • Yep, and it’s also bogus.

          The check is done by the credit card issuer, not the company you’re trying to buy something from; and the depth of check depends in part on the amount that’s being requested.

          Companies don’t want to do the check themselves because then the liability for false orders would land right on them rather than on the card issuer. I learned about all this not too longgf ago when I was contacted by the nice people at the AmEx fraud protection group.

  11. As bad as all this is, I am relieved to see a video where police aren’t trying to stop the people recording, or force them to stand far away on the grounds they are obstructing law enforcement or something similar.

    • I feel sorry for that poor cop. Not only does he have to stand around bored out of his mind, but now he’s forever associated with that ATF clown show all over the Internet.

  12. “Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.” ~ John Locke

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” -Ayn Rand

    • Ayn Rand may have been crazy in a lot of areas, but in that one she’s not wrong. As we keep saying around here, it’s not about guns, it’s about control. As the system moves closer and closer to a “that which is not permitted is forbidden” model, it’s much easier to keep everyone under control.

  13. Damn. my old stomping grounds. I misspent a few years stumbling around Oceanside when I was in the Corps…I’ve probably been in that shop if it’s been there more than six years.

  14. Regardless of what happens next the BATFE succeeded in shutting down Ares for all practical purposes because no one is going to give them a name and address – ever. No customers, no biz.

    • Well, playing devil’s advocate, do you blame them? With all the “Come and take it” conversation that goes on, even if they were exercising legitimate authority, it would not be out of line to see the possibility of armed resistance, and seeing that possibility, it’d be stupid to not prepare for it.

  15. I would like to see their warrant, and their excuse for the time of the raid.

    It looks like pure intimidation to me. They have been doing this sort of thing for a long time. This sends the message “Do what we tell you too, or we will destroy you.”

    Congress has never really done anything to punish the BATFE. The only people who were punished in the agency after Waco were the whistle blowers.

    Ralph is exactly right. They make stuff up as they go along. The rule of law means nothing to them. They have been recorded as saying it is BATFE policy to routinely lie in court.

    With this administration, you have disdain for the rule of law at the highest levels, giveing clear messages to a rouge agency that they will never be held accountable, and that the higher ups will always lie and coverup for them.

    Not only that, but the old media and Harry Reid have shown that they have pulled the teeth from the House of representatives.

  16. If someone owns one of these lowers it is time to bury it somewhere until the crap passes. We need to fight back.

  17. For the guys talking about harddrive and data destruction, use a kitchen top microwave out side for about 30 seconds then take a hammer to it. It’s what the IT/commo guys do to destroy old drives for the SF groups.

    • They’re idiots. NSA (and SOCOM IA) will HAVE. THEIR. AZZ. when they find out. I told the first wave of Green Zone guys to use Thermite. NSA published a Special Directive for exactly that situation.

      BTW, Happy St. Pat’s Day to the folks at the NOC. Too bad Kaufman’s went away.

  18. I do hope Ares was responsible enough to keep their customer lists on removable media and/or paper and that they used the time bought by the restraining order to properly dispose of these lists. If they didn’t then I have less sympathy for them because they failed to protect their customers.


    • I don’t expect most businesses to have to safeguard against government raids. It’s sad that would even be a consideration.

      • Unfortunately in this case they do.

        If Ares was not required to keep customer records for these lowers because at the time they weren’t classified as firearms then it would be perfectly legal to destroy the records. ATF can reclassify going forward but cannot retroactively require record keeping from a time when then was no record keeping requirement.

        • It’s called ex post facto and such laws are prohibited. You still have to go to court and the judge will toss the case. If the 9th Circuit, which is the most Progressive of Appellate Courts, will uphold the Second Amendment then any court will uphold the prohibition of on ex post facto enforcement of the law.

  19. I wish I had the money to make a big order from Ares right now so I could show my support. The govt keeps shifting the goal posts on us. How can you even make a good faith effort to comply with the ATF’s river of shite if they can’t decide what their own rules are?

  20. And the local PD stands there and watch as they violate a restraining order…just goes to show you the cops do not care about you…only you do.

  21. In the not distant past the Brazilian government seized the computer of a known criminal. They were desperate to get the information from his computer as it would have sealed the guy’s fate. Unfortunately for them, this guy had someone encrypt his hard drive using a free drive encryption product available to all of us. Well, the Brazilians tried to break into the encrypted drive and failed. So they asked friends at the FBI, always eager to show how smart and capable they are, to break into the drive. The FBI took the drive and after six months returned it, uncracked. The end of the story was, the guy could not be convicted. Snowden, who some people say is a patriot while others revile as the lowest traitor has stated repeatedly that the way to frustrate and slow and in many cases outright stop the harvesting of your computer data is to use encryption. A whole disk encryption program like TrueCrypt is easy to set up. Yes, it requires a little of your computer’s power to encrypt/decrypt but nothing is free. What price would you put on your privacy? Forget MS’s BitLocker, forget Apple’s FileVault — both have been busted.
    This whole Ares Armor incident is exactly why I never purchased anything from them: no assurance that they would protect my information. If I were purchasing a handguard and the ATF grabbed their sales records, OK, not liking that but not expecting my door to get kicked in as a result. The controversy surrounding the lowers upped the ante. Had they encrypted their drives and the thugs walked in with the warrant, all they would have had to do is power off the computers, not even correctly shut them down, and then the ATF could play crack the encryption on whatever they seized. Let it play out in the courts while the drives remain locked. And no paper records. None.

    • PGP/GnuPG. When you want to use only the very best. 2048 EC. Hide the Private Key on separate media somewhere else.

  22. wonder if 80 percent lowers have been executive ordered to be illegal.
    Would keep all biz records off site, better if you have a fire or other accident for the biz. Encryption sounds good but thats also what the NSA does for fun.

    • Not speaking for the NSA or any of the alphabet agencies but to your point, the NSA is very good at breaking into things that belong to others. That said, they have finite resources which they devote to priority tasking. Does anyone really think the NSA cares what any of the other alphabet agencies want? Encrypt your stuff. Make it so difficult for jerks like the ATF that in order for your drive to be broken into, it has to become a matter of national security and preempts things like breaking into the Norwegian Defense Ministry’s command and control systems. NSA breaking into a computer so ATF can make a gun case? I would believe that when I saw it with my own eyes.

  23. In the middle of these “from my cold dead hands” and “jack booted thugs” comments – which are probably deserved – it would be worthwhile to have some learned discussion from people who know the law for real and don’t just practice it on the internet. Specifically I’d like to hear some discussion on the potential liability for Ares’ customers which is not Internet rumor or suppositions based on how slimy BATFE is perceived to be. First off, are we talking only about the polymer lowers discussed in the article? If an individual bought a polymer lower in good faith, based on Ares’ understanding of the law and the discussions between the manufacturer of the lowers and BATFE, what are the realistic chances – again not Internet rumor – that individuals who purchased these polymer lowers will have BATFE show up at their door? What kind of numbers are we talking about? A few polymer lowers, a couple hundred, or a couple thousand? If the numbers are in the thousands does BATFE realistically have the resources to make that many cases?

    Secondly, what are the liabilities for an individual who may have purchased an 80% aluminum lower from Ares some time in the past – let’s say a year or two ago? I understand that 80% aluminum lowers have long been recognized as “okay” by BATFE and they are available from a large number of sources.

    Yes I do know of an individual who bought an aluminum lower from Ares a couple of years ago. I know that according to BATFE the receiver is not a firearm because it is still in its original 80% complete state today. I suspect that the individual’s name may be found on Ares’ computers from that purchase made in the past. I also suspect that the individual’s name shows up on other lists as he is a “churchgoing military veteran who owns guns”. So again what’s the realistic level of paranoia here?

    Now for a general comment that will get me into major trouble. I suspect that at least some of Ares’ troubles have come from their very “in your face” advertising campaign of late. The whole 80% lower thing has been one of those things that stayed pretty much under the radar for quite a few years. The gun guys knew what they could do, BATFE for the most part didn’t get too upset, and a good time and a good truce was had by all. Get all of this out into the media, publicize it with billboards, and the politicians feel pressured to do something because “we just can’t have this sort of thing going on.” Is any of that right? No, but unfortunately its the way business is done in this country. I’m not blaming the victim here, but I am reminding people of the realities of politics when dealing with people who don’t think as we do.


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