JACKSONVILLE, FL -(Ammoland.com)- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Postal Inspection Service has arrested a Florida man and seized his websites (autokeycard.com and autokeycards.com) for selling a drawing on a piece of metal.
The ATF raided and arrested Kristopher Justin Ervin, 41, of Jacksonville, FL, for manufacturing machine guns. Ervin did not sell or make any firearms.
The man sold a credit card-sized piece of metal with an outline of a lightning link.
A lightning link is a piece of metal that a user bends to drop into an AR15. When engaged, the lightning link transforms the firearm into a fully automatic machine gun. The ATF recently busted a West Virginia man for selling 3D printed “portal wall hangers” that buyers could use as a drop-in auto sear (DIAS).
Ervin sold his product as a novelty. The autokey card did have a drawing of a lightning link on the surface, but it was far from finished. For a person to use the device in a gun, the end-user would have cut out the lightning link and bend the metal before they could use it in an AR15. The owner of the company did not even etch the lightning link on the piece of metal. It was just an outline
Ervin took orders from customers via a printable order form that the user would mail into the company with payment (money order or cash). The company then would send out the card to the end-user. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida approved the seizure warrants for the company websites. Since the company did business through the United States Postal Service (USPS), the Postal Inspection Service joined the ATF in the case.
The ATF said the company violated 26 U.S.C. §§ 5845, 5861. The statute says it is a violation of federal law to manufacture, receive, transport, and/or deliver a machinegun not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
The ATF admits that Ervin did not sell a complete machine gun but did point to 26 U.S.C. §§ 5845(b).
Under that subsection, it is illegal to possess “any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun.” The ATF did not buy that Ervin was selling the autokey card as a novelty. The law enforcement agency will probably not extend that defense to gun owners that purchased the auto keycard off the man’s website.
The ATF says that anyone who owns an auto keycard purchased from the site violates the National Firearms Act (NFA). The agency will charge anyone busted with the device with a federal felony. Gun owners can face ten years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 per device owned. Since most people purchased multiple cards, the penalties could add up and be very costly.
The ATF asks anyone who has an autokey card to contact their local ATF office. By contacting the ATF, gun owners are not avoiding prosecution. The ATF does not promise amnesty from charges. AmmoLand News recommends that owners of autokey cards should contact a lawyer before contacting the ATF.
One lawyer who specializes in firearms told AmmoLand News off the record that he wouldn’t want to be the prosecutor in the case, but knowing the court system’s makeup, he also would not want to be the one being charged with the crime either.
The ATF did not return AmmoLand News’s calls for comment.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.