Saturday, March 13, 2010

Brainless BATF -- a rogue agency

Fed agencies seize toys, call them 'machine guns'

A gun rights organization has launched a Freedom of Information request following a decision by federal Customs and Border Protection agents to seize a shipment of toy pellet guns and a determination by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that they could be converted into machine guns so they must be destroyed.

Government agencies have explained that the Airsoft toys, made of a soft pot metal and lacking a firing mechanism, easily could be converted into a true weapon capable of automatic fire. "Our firearms technology branch classified this as a machine gun," BATFE Special Agent Kelvin Crenshaw said in a report assembled by Gun Owners of America. "With minimal work it could be converted to a machine gun."

Gun Owners spokesman Erich Pratt told WND today his organization has launched a FOIA demand for information to find out on what basis the government reached that conclusion.

The case stems from the confiscation just weeks ago of the shipment of several dozen of the plastic pellet-firing Airsoft toys from Brad Martin and his son, Ben, in Cornelius, Ore.

An analysis by John Velleco, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners noted that, "To make the transformation, the entirety of the upper receiver would have to be replaced, but the lower receiver would still be unable to endure the intense force of live ammunition because it is made of pot metal (inexpensive alloys) instead of hard steel. "And all of this work would actually cost more than buying a real – and stable – AR-15 rifle," he said.

The toys also lacked the orange paint on the muzzle that some classes of toys are required to have, but the Martins confirmed that when that situation had arisen with previous shipments from their Taiwan supplier, they were allowed to paint the ends of the barrels.

A local television station, KOIN, interviewed a specialist in the Airsoft product at issue – which actually can be used by police agencies for training because it does resemble a real weapon although it shoots only small plastic pellets. Jason Jonah of Andy and Dax Surplus said, "it looks like a gun, but the insides are completely different, the design is different, and the material it's made of is just not strong enough to fire real ammunition."

If somebody tried to fire real ammunition, he said, it mostly likely would blow up the toy. "The gun would come apart and the pieces fly at you," he said. "If it weren't the ATF making these accusations, I'd laugh, but they must be taking it seriously. In all my years, I've never had anyone talk – even laughingly – about changing these into weapons," he said. He said it would be about as easy to convert an Airsoft into a real weapon as transforming "your Cuisinart or any other electrical appliance into a real gun. "It's made of the same plastic or low-quality aluminum as any other appliance. So maybe you turn it into a firearm, but it would be like transforming any other electrical appliance – hiding a gun inside an electrical appliance," he said.

He noted that in an Airsoft, the trigger doesn't activate a firing mechanism, it sends "an electrical signal to the battery, which sends more signal to the motor, which is spinning and sending out those pellets." Velleco accused the federal government, through its gun regulatory agency, of becoming "an arrogant and out-of-control bureaucracy with a history of trampling on people's gun rights."

At the Everything Airsoft website, a commentary noted, "I would be first in line (behind a bulletproof screen) to witness the carnage that would ensue from somebody attempting to detonate a .223 round in the alloy upper receiver of an M4 GBB (Airsoft pellet gun), as unlikely as it would be with the absence of a firing pin and all the other essential parts of an AR-15 bolt to detonate a live round. "The ludicrousness dissuades me from wanting to even touch on the other issues such as the barrel ... and the dimensions of the ... receiver being incompatible with real steel tooling," the commentary said.


NC: Robber Shot, Taken To Hospital: "Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said a robber became a victim Thursday night. Officers responded to a shooting at the Windsor Harbor apartments on Shamrock Drive just before 10 p.m. Thursday. Officers found a man with a gunshot wound to the neck. Police said they believe the man was trying to commit a robbery when the intended victim shot him. He was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Ohio: Store owner shoots man during apparent robbery: "A store owner at the Allied Music of Ohio in South Toledo shot a man Friday after the suspect held a gun to a clerk’s head, police said. Sgt. Phil Toney said the suspect entered the store asking about getting a job there. He left but returned a few minutes later and allegedly held a gun to the clerk’s head. As the suspect led the clerk to a back room, the clerk called out “I need help” and a co-owner, Eric Bilger, appeared with a gun. Gunfire was exchanged. The suspect, Steve James, 30, of Toledo, who was the only one shot, was struck in the body and hand, Sergeant Toney said. The man then fled the store and ran across Byrne Road to the Burger King parking lot, where he collapsed. Police said he was transported to the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition. Mark Bilger, who co-owns the store with his brother, said they have been robbed three times since last summer. He said it was fortunate his brother got a carrying a concealed weapon permit and had a gun. “I am very happy that my brother is safe,” Mr. Bilger said Neither Eric Bilger nor the clerk was injured."

WA: Hostile judge cuts costs award: "A Longview man acquitted in January of assault on four downtown Longview nightclub employees will get roughly $40,000 in state compensation for his lawyer's fees and other trial-related costs, a Cowlitz County Superior Court judge said Friday. A jury in January found Brian Barnd-Spjut, 29, not guilty of four counts of second-degree assault. He had been accused of assaulting three bouncers and a manager at Kesler's Bar & Grill after he pulled a gun on them after they boosted him from the bar in March last year. Barnd-Spjut's attorney, Duane Crandall, argued that the bouncers had a reputation for assaulting patrons, and the jury agreed he was acting in self defense. State law allows Barnd-Spjut to collect his trial-related expenses from a state fund because the jury concluded that he was protecting himself. Crandall had asked for $92,000, including about $75,000 in attorney's fees, but Superior Court Judge Jim Warme said Friday that was too much. At a previous hearing, Warme had also suggested he may overturn the jury's determination that Barnd-Spjut was acting in self defense because he did not believe there was any evidence that Barnd-Spjut was being attacked. However, Warme declined Friday to overrule the jury, though he indicated he is still vexed by the jury's decision."

No comments: