A former U.S. Marine and the owner of Ares Armor in Oceanside, California, stood up for the Second Amendment and privacy rights, but found out the hard way the extent to which government will go to impose its will.
As the owner of a gun-parts store, Dimitri Karras refused to release the names of his customers to agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. And though Karras secured a temporary restraining order against the agency, members of the ATF executed a search warrant March 15 and stormed the premises for the data anyway.
According to Karras, the ATF was not investigating his business, but rather his customers, and he refused to comply, even as the ATF threatened to shut down his business. Specifically, the agents inquired into the identities of all his customers who purchased an 80 percent lower receiver used to build an AR-15 rifle; the part in question serves as the base of the rifle.
KSWB-TV reports that it is illegal to build an AR-15 rifle without a serial number, but that is only if the base meets the exact specifications set by the ATF.
The ATF claims that the part Karras' store was selling is illegal.
The Blaze explains, “Instead of metal, Ares Armor carries a certain brand of receiver that is made from plastic. It also has markings on it to show gun owners exactly where to drill.... Ares Armor was one of several stores to receive a letter from federal agents demanding they turn over the non-compliant product and the names of the customers who bought them.”
Karras indicates that the letter virtually threatened that Karras was to release the names or that the ATF would come in and take them.
While Karras and his lawyer have told the ATF that the agents were welcome to come into his store and take the allegedly illegal inventory, Karras remained opposed to turning over the names of his customers, citing significant privacy concerns.
“They were going to search all of our facilities and confiscate our computer and pretty much shut our business down,” the Blaze quoted him saying. “The government invades our privacy on a daily basis and everyone thinks it’s okay. This is one of those situations where hopefully the governmental institutions will come in say, ‘This is protected and no you’re not taking it from them.’ "
In anticipation of the ATF's actions, Karras secured a temporary restraining order against the agency.
But that was not enough to stop the powerful government entity.
The Blaze reports, “Federal agents responded by obtaining an ex parte order, meaning they did it without Ares being present, giving them permission to execute a ‘lawful search.’ ”
The ATF "is conducting a lawful criminal investigation of the illegal manufacture, distribution, sale, and possession of AR-15 variant lower receivers, which are considered firearms under the Firearms Control Act," the federal agency said in its ex parte application.
Karras took to Facebook to opine over the agency's actions. "The ATF did execute a search warrant against all of our buildings today. None of our employees have been detained or arrested. We will be open for business tomorrow," Karras said March 15 in a Facebook post. "We will be back up and shipping out orders on Monday [March 17]. We wholeheartedly believe that they are WRONG in their actions and we will be relentlessly pursuing remedy through the courts."
Karras also noted in his post that he heard an ATF agent say during the raid, "Searching is fun! Paper work sucks."
"Maybe the ATF thinks the Constitution is part of that paper work that sucks," Karras wrote. "Despicable behavior on their part. This is just the beginning! Thank you all for the support!"
Karras' battle on behalf of the Second Amendment and privacy rights is just one of many examples of citizens refusing to comply with government overreach.
In Connecticut, as many as 100,000 gun owners with 350,000 unregistered weapons are refusing to comply with a 2013 Connecticut gun law that requires gun registration and bans over 100 types of semi-automatic weapons. Estimates of the banned magazines holding more than 10 rounds — which have no serial numbers and are impossible to track unless registered — show that only 36,932 have been entered into the state’s databases, while over two million remain on the market.
One Connecticut gun owner told Republican state Senator Tony Guglielmo at a constituents' meeting that he and his fellow gun owners refuse to adhere to the registration requirements.
Likewise, a lawsuit challenging New Jersey's tight restrictions on handgun ownership is gaining widespread support as 19 states have joined the suit launched by plaintiff John Drake, who claims he was denied a permit after he managed to stop a robbery attempt on his business.
Newsmax reports, "Drake lost his appeal before a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year and now a growing number of states, led by Wyoming, are asking teh U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, claiming New Jersey was wrong when it determined that the business owner failed to prove 'justifiable need' to carry a gun under state statute."
Gun rights advocates are applauding the efforts to stand up for the "right to keep and bear arms" guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
"Americans should not have to ask their government for a permission slip to own a gun," Dudley Brown, executive director of the National Association for Gun Rights, told Newsmax. "The Second Amendment is a protected right, not a privilege," Brown said. "New Jersey officials have overstepped their authority and New Jersey residents should have their right to self-defense upheld."
The American people seem to be growing more supportive of gun rights, even as assaults against the Second Amendment intensify at the state and federal levels. According to a recent Gallup Poll, Americans' dissatisfaction with U.S. gun laws and policies has increased to 55 percent, nearly matching the high of 57 percent back in 2001. Only 40 percent are satisfied, down from the historical average of 47 percent since Gallup began asking the question in this way in 2001.
American opposition to attacks on Second Amendment rights is forcing lawmakers to make some uncomfortable choices.
For example, Vivek Murthy, President Obama's surgeon general nominee, will not likely be confirmed by the Senate because of his support for gun control policies. "A number of Senate Democrats have indicated that they might oppose President Barack Obama’s choice of Vivek Murthy for the post of U.S. Surgeon General, according to Senate aides, putting the nomination at risk over the issue of gun control," the Wall Street Journal noted. "Dr. Murthy’s nomination is opposed by the National Rifle Association, the country’s largest gun lobby, because he has expressed support for gun control, calling it a public-health issue."
Examples such as this prove that the American people can apply informed pressure on their elected representatives and use their freedom to save their freedom.
Photo: Screen-grab from a YouTube video showing stills of the raid.