Originally published April 6 2014
Lawless ATF raids small business at gunpoint solely to confiscate customer list
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The owner of a small chain of gun parts stores in Oceanside, Calif., that sells lower receivers, or "lowers," of AR-15 rifles was raided by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives March 15, because, he says, he refused to turn over his customer list.
The owner of Ares Armor, Dimitrios Karras, said prior to the raid, agents with the ATF had informed him that it was coming because he was allegedly selling illegal guns. He said the agents informed him that, if he just turned over his list, the raid could be avoided.
Karras, an ex-Marine who has built his business into three locations, instead went to court and obtained a restraining order against the ATF, claiming that the AR-15 polymer lowers are not complete rifles and, therefore, are legal to sell, giving the agency no cause to raid his business.
Within a few days, however, ATF agents nonetheless secured a search warrant and, in violation of the restraining order, raided Karras' business.
(See the video here.)
'Made me feel like I was being extorted'
It's important to note that Karras is not selling complete AR-15 rifles; rather, he is selling parts of the rifle that buyers have to then assemble themselves, which is completely legal because they, by themselves, are not considered a "firearm." It's also important to note that the ATF raided Karras not to arrest him or shut down his business but merely to obtain his customer list, which is lawless in and of itself, given the Fourth Amendment privacy considerations. In addition, agents took much of his inventory of 80 percent lower receivers.
"Since the AR-15 lowers are not firearms, the ATF should, technically, have no authority in the matter at all," says an email from Gunowners of America, describing the arrest. "Even the ATF's own rule making does not consider the 80 percent lower receivers to be firearms, so they should have no authority to regulate or confiscate them."
Customers buy the other 20 percent of the rifle and assemble it themselves.
Karras said he sat down with ATF officials before the raid and attempted to work something out with them so that they would be satisfied and he could still protect the privacy of his customers. He said that, since he is selling a product legally, there was no reason not to want to conform to ATF wishes, but only up to a point. But agents insisted on obtaining his customer list.
"This made me feel as if I was being extorted," Karras said in a declaration he provided to local and national media.
'We're a legitimate business'
The lowers that Karras has been selling come devoid of serial numbers. Reports say he has sold around 5,000 of them; that means there are likely that many AR-15 rifles in circulation that the ATF and other government agencies don't know about, hence the interest in the customer list, which they now have.
Interestingly, the court-ordered temporary restraint against the ATF said that no actions could be carried out against Ares Armor prior to a court hearing at a later date to determine the facts of the case.
Karras said common sense should have informed the ATF that his business is lawful.
"If we were doing something criminal... is a criminal going to go to the [local] news and say, 'This is what's happening?'" Karras told Guerilla Media Network in an interview. "Is a criminal going to go to the courts and say, 'Please help me! Please, please, please!'"
"We're a legitimate business. We operate as a legitimate business," he continued. "And we were threatened with absolute [sic] ludicrous things in an attempt to get us to willingly hand over information."
Karras also said that, when the agents raided his business, they had weapons drawn, even though there were children inside. And he said he was told by one agent that the raid took place because he had "embarrassed" the ATF by going public.
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