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Agents of Incompetence: ATF Seizes ‘Toys,’ Then Touts Their Danger (Part II)

Two teams of experts test the ATF's assertion that the seized toys can be converted into automatic weapons. (Read Part One of this three-part series here.)

by
Bob Owens

Bio

March 9, 2010 - 12:43 am
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In addition to the failure-prone lower receivers, the various Airsoft toys (including WE Tech) tested by AirSplat could not mate a real AR upper receiver to a toy lower, due to the placement of the two pins that hold the upper and lower units together. The hole location for the Airsoft pins were not compatible with the real AR upper, and were in fact ingeniously placed in such a location that attempting to drill new holes would result in the receiver metal tearing between the existing holes and new ones, immediately turning the receiver to scrap.

AirSplat was also unable to get real M4 magazines to lock into place in the Airsoft lowers, noting that the magazine lock was located in a different position inside the receiver, with the toy magazines designed to catch roughly 1/4″ higher. They captured this magazine locking failure on video as part of their review of a similar Airsoft M4. This video, of course, isn’t evidence that the WE Tech would have similar problems, but it certainly suggests that is yet another possible failure point of the ATF determination that the two WE Tech M4 variants could be turned into a weapon.

Playing devil’s advocate, one can easily understand why the ATF would want to block the importation of toys that could be easily converted into automatic weapons. Any toy that could be converted into a machine gun should of course be banned.

The ATF has thus far failed to show anyone evidence that they were able to easily convert one of the confiscated WE Tech Airsoft Rifles taken from Airsoft Outlet Northwest into a weapon. There has been no information that they attempted to test fire any conversion they may have attempted, or what the results of that test may have been. All requests for specific comment to the public affairs officers of both the ATF and U.S. Customs have gone unanswered.

Last but not least, the Customs/ATF argument for confiscating these toys might seem more plausible if they were focused on one kind of firearm, with a specific lower receiver they would publicly demonstrate as a serious threat.

But Customs has not stopped with confiscating just WE Tech M4s from Airsoft Outlet Northwest. They’ve also confiscated sixteen KJW M700 bolt-action Airsoft rifles (though Amazon.com sells them easily enough), four m700 bolt-action rifles from Bell, fifteen WE Tech SCARs (available seemingly everywhere), ten pistols, and four revolvers. The total cost of the additional Airsoft toys and accessories being held from Airsoft Outlet Northwest by U.S. Customs is roughly $20,000.

Bren Martin, part of the family that owns Airsoft Outlet Northwest, says they are no different than any other family-owned business trying to survive in a down economy and that the seemingly vindictive and arbitrary seizures by Customs threatens ten jobs.

Are U.S. Customs inspectors and the ATF treating the Martin family and their business fairly, or are these confiscations both punitive and unreasonable, considering that the same guns they have declared are “machine guns” can be purchased with monotonous frequency by anyone in America with a credit card and an internet connection?

We’ll address these questions and whether or not the entire affair is a gross example of bureaucratic incompetence in “Agents of Incompetence, Part III.”

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Bob Owens blogs at Bob-Owens.com.
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