Last week, ATF agents raided Polymer80, a company that makes incomplete pistol receivers for people to finish at home. Now, we all know that this practice is legal. Polymer80 has been around for a little while and they’ve never had a problem. After all, the ATF signed off on the incomplete receiver, right?
Well, they did. However, over at The Firearms Blog, they got their hands on some of the paperwork surrounding the raid. Now, we know more about what the agents were looking for and what that may mean for customers.
According to documents sent to TFB from an anonymous source, the ATF investigation into the Polymer80 and the Buy Build Shoot kits appears to focus on three main elements. First, the ATF states that the Buy Build Shoot kits are firearms, not just parts. Second, because these kits are considered firearms, Polymer80 did not follow the regulations guiding the transfer of handguns from an FFL to individuals. And third, a number of the Polymer80 Buy Build Shoot kits were shipped from Polymer80 to prohibited persons. The affidavit in support of the Polymer80 warrant application to search for and seize evidence related to the investigation is detailed, in part, below.
Polymer80 Warrant – Handguns, Customer Records, Prohibited Persons
The affidavit is over 50 pages long and details a year-long investigation into Polymer80 and the sale of the Buy Build Shoot kits to individuals in the United States. In the affidavit, the ATF states that while Polymer80 submitted a “receiver blank” for determination, the company did not provide a full Buy Build Shoot kit for analysis. It is unclear why a full kit of unregulated parts is required to be determined as a firearm or just a kit when the receiver or receiver blank could be the only regulated part.
Using information from Polymer80’s FFL inspections, items received for ATF determination and the ability of both ATF agents as well as confidential informants to “readily assemble” a firearm, the ATF determined that Polymer80 knew the Buy Build Shoot kits meet the federal definition of a firearm. With this determination by the ATF, they then maintain that the Polymer80 Buy Build Shoot kits needed to follow the regulations for Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) manufacturers and dealers when transferring handguns to non-licensees.
It seems that since the Buy Build Shoot kits contained not just the incomplete receiver, but also the other parts necessary to complete the firearm, it somehow ran afoul of the ATF’s imaginary guidelines.
The problem is, the ATF has long maintained that the receiver is the part of the gun that makes it a gun. None of the other parts do, so why would their presence somehow turn a block of plastic–which is all a Polymer80 receiver is–into a firearm? I honestly don’t really see the logic, such as it is, on this one.
Now, what does this mean?
Well, since they got customer lists, it seems they may potentially go after buyers of these kits. After all, these folks are alleged to have purchased guns by mail, basically, without them going through an FFL holder.
The Firearms Policy Coalition is already digging in for a fight on their behalf.
**FPC LAW NEEDS YOUR HELP** If you own a Polymer80 “Buy Build Shoot” kit or similar PLEASE let our attorneys know ASAP ➡️ [email protected] ⬅️ if you would be willing to help us litigate this issue! **Especially seeking potential plaintiffs in AL, GA, FL, MI, OH, MS, LA, TX, ND**
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) December 13, 2020
Now, one of the allegations against Polymer80 is that they sent a Buy Build Shoot kit to a prohibited person. Federal law already forbids people who are prohibited from building a firearm, but it doesn’t punish those who aren’t selling completed firearms for selling non-firearms to people who might be prohibited.
It sounds to me like they had to justify the kits being actual guns just so they could hit Polymer80 with selling to the wrong person. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.
It looks like this is going to be a long, drawn-out process that will bear careful attention.