Looking through a stack of federal cases this morning I espied something odd, a file titled USA v. ... well, let's just say an address all of four blocks from my Northwest Dallas house, and a house I drive by at least once a day. A foreclosure, perhaps? A tax issue? Something perfectly benign? No, not really: In the affidavit and application for a search warrant filed last week and unsealed yesterday, an ATF agent says the owner of the house has spent the better part of the past year buying enough AR-15 and 7.62 lower receivers and parts kits needed to assemble a large arsenal. And, of course, the owner of the house doesn't have a license to deal.
According to the agent, ATF investigators were looking at the acquisition and disposition records at a Farmers Branch firearms dealer. The investigators saw that between October of last year and March of this year, one guy had bought through the dealer 15 AR-15 receivers and another 30 7.62-caliber receivers, not to mention all the other pieces needed to put those puzzles together. The owner asked the dude: Why all the orders? The buyer insisted he "was building rifles for target shooting and for his personal collection." Except ...
The ATF agent's affidavit says he learned that in January, another man was stopped by Hidalgo police -- right there on the border -- attempting to smuggle 15 guns into Mexico. Serial numbers on 12 of the guns had been completely obliterated, but three proved traceable -- two, back to the guy buying all the parts and tools.
At which point the ATF agent says he ran the home owner's employment records, which proved nonexistent. "Yet he is able to pay for his residence and for all the gun receivers and kits he is ordering," writes the agent -- including, on May 31, 20 more AK-74 receivers, which he ordered through the same dealer, who this time called ATF agents with the heads-up. And orders kept piling up: four receivers here, 20 there and so on, with a PS90 added to the pile.
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At some point, the affidavit says, the owner of the store in Farmers Branch told the buyer to be careful, because the FBI's arresting people at gun shows for selling their own weapons and, besides, selling your personal guns is fine and all, but if you're doing it as a business, well, that's illegal. To which the guy allegedly assembling and selling all those guns said: "It was easier in the '80s."