Back in June, KT Ordnance, a gun parts company in Montana, was raided by the ATF. Their inventory and files were confiscated, and their computer hard drives were copied. Oddly, no arrests were made (one would think that activity that would prompt such heavy-handed tactics would also constitute grounds for arrest, but remember, this is the ATF we're talking about here--an agency that has apparently taken upon itself some "higher" calling than merely enforcing the law). The (alleged) reason for the raid? Ostensibly, it was suspicion of "illegal manufacture of firearms."
Some background information is in order. What KT Ordnance is best known for is what is known as the "80% market." For legal purposes, the frame (also sometimes referred to as the receiver) of a firearm is the firearm--all the other pieces of a gun are just parts (the firing mechanism parts for fully automatic weapons are the exception to that rule--a fully automatic conversion kit is considered a machinegun). Since the frame is the firearm, that is the part that is subject to the enormous profusion of laws regulating (over-regulating, to be more accurate) guns.
Frames built for the 80% market are only partially (about 80%, logically enough) completed. They need considerable machine work done (which must be performed by the buyer, who may never sell the completed frame or firearm) before they can ever be used in the assembly of a functional firearm. This fact makes them legal to sell without any of the onerous laws that apply to the sale of completed firearms (or the completed frames thereof). This is clearly legal, as can be seen in the ATF's own rules.
So, what illegality did KT Ordnance supposedly commit? The ATF won't comment (which is typical practice for them--transparency in government is not a principle for which they have any affection), but about the only violation possible would be selling frames that were more than 80% complete, without jumping through the various legal hoops required for selling complete guns (or frames). My favorite rabidly anti-gun folks, the Gun Guys, automatically accepted that if the ATF raided them, they must have been guilty of doing that (so much for the presumption of innocence pending proof of guilt, eh?).
Celata [the owner of KT Ordnance] claims he wasn’t selling those types of kits, but there’s a reason the ATF raided him, and if that wasn’t it, what was?
Actually, there might be an answer to the Gun Guys' question. As it turns out, even before the storm trooper raid, Celata has been a staunch and outspoken advocate of the fundamental, natural, unalienable right of the individual to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This, apparently, is in itself a crime in the eyes of the ATF. To make matters worse, Celata makes no bones about his association with JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership)--a gun rights advocacy group that is considerably less moderate than the NRA, and less inclined to pull punches in the fight against anti-gun tyranny. Celata and JPFO have had, over the years, quite a lot to say about the ATF, and little, if any, of it is complimentary.
That, I submit, is the most likely reason for the raid--pure harrassment of a vocal critic of the ATF. It would seem that the only way to end the ATF's abuses is to get rid of the ATF.