Rather than continue a protracted expensive court battle with the ATF over a controversial “80%”AR-15 lower receiver design that his company was building, EP Armory’s Christopher Cook is cutting his losses.
Christopher Cook, of Bakersfield, agreed to forfeit to the United States approximately 3,804 polymer AR-15 lower receivers manufactured in violation of federal firearms laws, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. AR-15 lower receivers are classified as firearms under federal law.
Here’s the “80%” lower in question, which they call the EP80.
The ATF took issue with the differently-colored plastic “biscuit” in the middle of the gun, as we noted when the drama started.
The Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) sent a letter to EP Armory letter (PDF) which argues that the EP Armory part is a firearm receiver, and therefore, their sale by EP Armory and Ares Armor constitutes illegal sales of firearms under the Gun Control Act of 1968.
How did they determine this?
First, the FTB initially claimed that the beige(ish) part in the center of the EP Armory part (pictured more clearly below) was created after the injection molded part (the clear polymer), resulting in the creation of a firearm that wasn’t undone by the injection of the beige(ish) nylon into the fire control group area, which EP Armory calls the “biscuit.”
The FTB claim was that EP Armory created what they viewed as clearly a firearm receiver, and then tried to cheat the system by backfilling it with another colored bit of material in the fire control group area to pull a fast one.
EP Armory countered by explaining to the FTB that in their manufacturing process, the “biscuit” is actually created first, and that the rest of the material is then injection-molded around it. There was no void being filled, because the void never existed at any stage of the manufacturing process.
While technically (and rather obviously) true as a fact of the manufacturing process, the FTB is now arguing that the process alone is enough of a deviation from how things have always been done to render it non-compliant.
In the end, the ATF simply had more resources to fight this battle, and it simply wasn’t worth EP Armory’s time or money when they have both other polymer and aluminum “80%” lowers that are just as profitable for them to sell.
It’s too bad that the ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) is so inconsistent in their rulings as they constantly stifle innovation, but in the end, it’s Congress that is ultimately to blame.
The ATF doesn’t write stupid laws, they’re simply stuck enforcing them.
It’s been two years since this saga began and we haven’t heard of any EP80 receiver purchasers being raided by the ATF.
Let’s hope it stays that way.