F Troop is hinting that Stag Arms must be participating in some sort of criminal enterprise, but what I think we’re seeing here is nothing more than mind-bending levels of derp:
Federal regulators who enforce firearms laws have asked to keep more than 100 assault rifle parts seized last fall from Stag Arms, a New Britain gun manufacturer.
In a visit to Stag Arms in July 2014, agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found about 3,000 receivers — part of the housing where the serial numbers go — without serial numbers, according to documents filed in federal court.
Mark Malkowski, owner of Stag Arms, told the agent that the employee who engraves the serial numbers on the parts was on vacation, and that’s why they were still blank. The documents say the parts were still blank a week later, on a second visit. Unmarked parts were found at two locations, but only seized from one, where the company told the agent that they had been left unmarked for years.
The company has not been charged with any wrongdoing as the investigation continues.
In September, an ATF agent obtained a search and seizure warrant that allowed the agency to seize the parts as well as computers and records at the business. She wrote in the warrant application: “I know from my training and experience that [companies] who engage in unlawful transactions, sales and transfers of firearms often keep records, documents and property which constitute evidence, fruits of such crime and/or contraband …”
She also wrote that it is common for businesses selling illegal weapons to keep a separate set of books.
In specific, the suit claims that ATF inspectors on a routine inspection on July 15, 2014 discovered that Stag Arms had approximately 3,000 un-serialized lower receivers at their 119 John Downey Drive location. Stag claims that they’d been there for 7-30 days while the employee who serializes those parts was on vacation. Those parts were still un-serialized when the inspectors returned a week later, on July, 22, 2014.
Inspectors also found 136 un-serialized Stag Arms manufactured lowers at 515 John Downey Drive that had been moved (0.3 miles) from the 119 John Downey Drive address, which they contend constitutes a transfer under the National Firearms Act.
Stag Arms apparently admitted keeping un-serialized lowers on hand in case a serialized lower was damaged. They apparently did so, so that they could then simply destroy the damaged lowers (without having to do additional paperwork) and put that serial number of the lower receiver on one of the un-serialized receivers.
This strikes me as an unwise attempt to cut bookkeeping corners, and may technically violate federal laws (we’ll leave that for the court to decide). This is a serious allegation, and could lead to their license to manufacture firearms being revoked, putting the company out of the finished gun business (they could still manufacture every part except completed lower receivers, and could make even so-called “80-percent” lowers without an FFL).
I think ATF Special Agent JoAnne Lambert is desperately reaching to an almost comic level, however, in asserting that Stag was engaging in a criminal conspiracy to supply these lowers to some unknown criminal enterprise.
Her own complaint notes that these were not completely blank lowers, but were clearly marked with “Stag Arms, New Britain, Connecticut, USA.”
I’d love to put Special Agent Lambert on the stand and ask her to explain just how Stag Arms would be able to engage in selling “illegal weapons” when receivers are clearly marked with the company’s identifying information. Anyone using such a lower in a crime would lead the ATF directly back to Stag Arms, who would be in even greater trouble than they are now. Put bluntly, it is a foolish assertion.
There is zero evidence presented in this complaint to show that Stag Arms intended to commit any sort of criminal sale or transfer to a third party, and frankly, there isn’t any money in doing so when a home builder can manufacture one from an 80-percent blank for less than the cost of a factory receiver if he has basic tools and the appropriate jigs.
Stag Arms is in very serious jeopardy for their technical violations of federal law regarding the serialization of AR-15 lower receivers. Let’s not forget nor minimize those allegations, as they seem to have legitimacy.
What they clearly aren’t doing, however, is engaging in the criminal sale or transfer of un-serialized but company marked lower receivers, and it is idiotic for ATF to make that claim.