Motion To Dismiss In Lightning Link Case Has Been Denied Seized By the ATF, Owner Arrested For Selling A Drawing Seized By the ATF, Owner Arrested For Selling A Drawing

TAMPA, FL-( In the Autokey Card criminal court case, a Florida judge denied a motion to dismiss filed by Justin Ervin’s defense team.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrested Mr. Ervin for allegedly violating the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The Florida man was selling a thin piece of metal with an outline of a lightning link sketched onto its surface. He sold the item through his now-defunct website ( A lightning link allows a gun owner to convert a semi-automatic AR-15 style sporting rifle into a fully automatic machine gun.

The ATF claimed that Ervin designed the item and intended the buyers to convert their firearms into machine guns using the Autokey Card. Prosecutors also claimed the Autokey Card was readily convertible into a lightning link using basic metalworking tools. The federal government declares that a user could cut out a lightning link’s basic shape from the metal card then bend the pieces into a working shape. The ATF believes people who purchased the card intend to convert their AR-15 rifles into automatic rifles.

The ATF views any device that a person designs to convert a gun into an automatic firearm as a machinegun itself.

This method is how the ATF reclassified bump stocks as machinegun after the Las Vegas shooting. The ATF has also banned other devices like a Yankee Boogle or the Portal Wall Hanger. They are also attempting to reclassify the Rare Breed FRT-15 as a machinegun.

Mr. Ervin claimed that the Autokey Card was nothing more than a novelty and a piece of art. Ervin’s defense team also claimed that the Autokey Card was protected under the First Amendment. Currently, there are no cases where anyone used an Autokey Card to convert a firearm into a machine gun.

The defense team for Mr. Ervin filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case on these Constitutional grounds. They claimed that the Autokey Card is not a machine gun, and Ervin did not design it to be a machine gun. They claim that the Autokey Card is protected art under the First Amendment. Mr. Ervin’s counsel also claimed that the ATF violated his freedom of expression. The judge denied the motion and stated that a jury would have to decide if the Autokey Card is a machine and if Ervin’s device is protected under the First Amendment.

Although this decision is disappointing to Ervin’s defenders, it is not a totally unexpected decision by the judge. Granting a motion to dismiss would be a summary judgment. Unfortunately for Mr. Ervin, the courts have decided that there are no summary judgment remedies in a federal criminal case. Case law tied the judge’s hands, and the judge’s decision is in line with prior court cases.

Mr. Ervin’s case is scheduled to start on April 11, 2022. The jury will decide whether Justin Ervin violated the NFA by selling machine guns or if Mr. Ervin was selling a piece of art that is protected under the First Amendment.

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

John Crump

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Using the ATF’s logic, the famous leftist book “The Anarchist Cookbook” is a bomb, because the book tells you how to make a bomb. It would be interesting how the ATF would respond to a question whether having the same image printed on mere paper is a “machine gun” because it can be laid on a piece of metal and used as the pattern to cut out a lightning link.


Or maybe a T-shirt with a large image of a lightning link, with or without dimensions. What about posting the information online?


Or the image posted above? When will this silliness end? The ATF has become, The Department of Gotcha!
There are plenty of felons illegally armed, I don’t see the feds proecuting them.


..and they can easily obtain machine guns if they want.


Don’t you mean insanity? If it was just silly, I’d laugh. But these ass hats with a uniform and badge think it is “right” to cage a guy for this. THAT is insanity!


Hell I wonder if the image above is scale ? lol


there are drawings on line , I have seen them made of bailing strap the z link too spring steel

Nun Ya

make one of those cards driver license size and it would be lol


I couldn’t have said it better.


Nope not a machinegun till someone uses it as such. Then it may or may not work. The case should have been thrown out. There are many ways to make it work or not. As far as Rare Breed triggers they are back on the market. So there’s that. Been debating if I need one or two. lol


While I agree it would make most sense for the case to be thrown out, “Case law tied the judge’s hands”. Judge did not have a choice. Do we really want Judges, or cops, making laws?

What I think would make most sense is if “qualified” immunity did not exist and if Mr. Ervin could sue for just compensation for governments attacks, covering legal costs, lost sales and impact on his life. Better yet if he could sue the pants off the individuals responsible for this travesty – from prosecutors to every ATF agent involved.


I’ve argued for decades for our 2nd Amendment-guaranteed God-given right to be armed as well as – or better than – any force that tries to tell us how we should live. The NFA, GCA, and every other arms-related ‘law’ on the books in every jurisdiction: all unconstitutional. ‘Shall not be infringed’ means exactly what it says. Like everything else in life: better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.


“armed as wellas – or better then” Dick’s sporting goods isn’t going to be selling Javelins or TOWs.

Wild Bill

No Dick’s isn’t even selling guns anymore. There are things for sale, however, if you want to spend big dollars on it. Or we can get what we need from our enemies, whether those enemies be our own government or whomever invades us.


Maybe we can negotiate a deal with some of those Taliban guys who got what? 35 BILLION in weapons from the idiots running the government? They GIVE them away to our enemies but want to cage us or murder us for having a “autokeycard” or a short barrel shotgun you didn’t pay $200 and say MASSA, can I pleeze have a SBS? Can I pleeze? This crap is enough to gag a maggot.


mrap for driving through riot zones


If it comes to civil war, I don’t doubt Russia and China would both be happy to funnel all sorts of toys to us. The more disruption in our country, the better for them.

It’s a sad day when they become our ‘friends’ based on enemy-of-my-enemy axiom.

Roland T. Gunner

We can always hope.


Any machinist worth his/her paycheck can make an auto sear. Will [they] arrest all machinists next, on the ‘Minority Report’ off-chance that one of us might want a spray-n-pray ammo waster?

Watch um

I hate to waste Ammo, I think anyone should own machine gun that is a citizen. I really don’t need one at my advanced age of 79 a shotgun works better

Idaho Bob

Is that you Senile Joe? Let’s Go Brandon!


I have my doubts about a Florida jury reaching a conviction even in Liberal Tampa.


where is this case being tried. i live in florida and want to be on the jury.


Right? I’d hang the jury or we would walk out and say NOT GUILTY your “honor”!

Deplorable Bill

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The 2A. The free American citizen not only has the right but the obligation to keep and bear arms, we are the militia that outside governments fear beyond the military or the law. See Yamamoto for instance. The 2A is designed as a guarantee designed to ensure personal and national freedom, freedom from tyranny being an example. The very tyranny we see in this particular case for instance. Also mentioned in the 2A is the LEGAL governmental response re; firearms and anything else militia related, it… Read more »


OH NO! Ammoland printed the Autokey card! ATF is on the way!!!


Hmmm maybe few folks could take the basic pattern, design something that a half blind gummit agent could mistake for the artwork on this card, and begin selling that as a novelty.

Then the denfense would demand da gummit doobs would actually take the pattern and make the offenging part, and PROVE it works as claimed by them.

The Thought Police are out and about.


ALL crimes with no victim are thought crimes.


make a Andy Warhol /picaso collage with parts for all known z link quick link and the like


How many people has the ATF arrested with completed and functioning machine guns made with this device? That should be the basis for the case, not some drawings.

Wild Bill

Hmmm, sounds like a defense argument.


It is a defense argument and should have been the leading question to the ATF agents that testified.

Wild Bill

So you are presenting a prosecution argument and a defense argument? That is novel. Merry Christmas and a Happy New firearm!


A team of ATFs most skilled and experienced machinists, with fully equipped shop, can take the card and an AR with all the right parts (full auto bolt, etc) – within a week they can have a semi-reliable machine gun. That seems to be their standard for readily convertible. Not sure why they don’t claim iron ore deposits, cars, and aluminum cans to be machine guns. After all with the right equipment and skills they can all be made into machine guns if you’ve got the time. Even ignoring constitutional restraints on the legislature, the written laws clearly state machine… Read more »

Roland T. Gunner

I am sick of BATFE, sick of the twisted, unconstitutional bullshit they are allowed to get away with, and sick of our only recourse being to contact our congressmen, to no avail.


Last edited 1 year ago by ruger264

The thing has “patent pending”. so he has submitted paperwork to the feds saying it is a’ “machine gun conversion device”. That is what we in the business would call evidence.

Wild Bill

Sounds like a prosecution argument.


Yes it does. It sounds like he made a really stupid move and his defense will have a hard time getting around it.


So would holding the likeness of a severed head of a sitting president constitute as attemted murder? That is what the ATF is saying here.


I don’t think so Don.


So what? Is there any VICTIM? Anyone DAMAGED by his “act”? Besides what does that pesky 2nd amendment say about SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED? I’m sure the founding fathers would have stood by complacently while King George armed his soldiers with full auto weapons if they were available and if King George had said the colonists couldn’t have them they would have said…Sure King. Whatever thouest sayest. This kind of crap is infuriating.


Don is a big fan of enforcing infringement.

Do you recall the discussions about braced pistols?