The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday that it has received a temporary court order blocking two firearms companies from selling a device that officials say converts AR-15-style rifles into machine guns.
The DOJ said in a release that the federal government filed a civil complaint last week against the companies, Rare Breed Triggers LLC and Rare Breed Firearms LLC, along with their operators, Lawrence DeMonico and Kevin Maxwell, alleging that they have unlawfully sold FRT-15 devices, which are intended to convert the rifles into machine guns.
The DOJ said the defendants have conspired to defraud the United States and committed mail and wire fraud. The release states the manufacture, sale and possession of machine guns is illegal under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.
U.S. District Judge Nina Morrison granted a temporary restraining order on Wednesday, according to the release.
“The Justice Department will continue to do everything in its power to protect the American people from gun violence and to hold accountable those that flood our communities with illegal guns,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
Steven Dettelbach, the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said Congress decided decades ago that machine guns are illegal but that the defendants are believed to be “flouting the law” despite being warned repeatedly.
“Machine guns are unlawful because they pose a threat to the public and they are increasingly a risk to law enforcement,” he said.
The release states that the defendants allegedly sold thousands of FRT-15s to the public and misled their consumers about the device’s legality.
Morrison said in her ruling that there is probable cause to believe that the defendants’ conduct is “ongoing and imminent,” making the order necessary. She also said probable cause exists that they did not register the devices to conceal their sale from the ATF.
The release states that the DOJ’s action is part of the Civil Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. It was created last year to have local, state and federal officials work with community stakeholders to address the “root causes” of gun-related crime.
“These defendants are believed to have earned millions at the expense of the public’s safety and are alleged to have conspired to undermine these very federal laws which are intended to keep the public safe,” said ATF special agent-in-charge John DeVito.
The Hill has reached out to Rare Breed Triggers and Rare Breed Firearms for comment.