vs. Stewart -- ATF Misfires Again
Today's Hearing in Federal Court Reveals ATF Ineptitude
by Angel Shamaya
(Phoenix, Arizona) July 10,
Bob Stewart will be sleeping
in his own bed again tonight. All
arguments in the government's current case against him have been heard, cross
examinations of the only two expert witnesses in today’s hearing have been
conducted, and the judge is expected to offer his opinion as court reconvenes on
Thursday, July 13, at 10:30am in the federal district court in Phoenix.
If you've been on summer
vacation for the last month and missed this case, Mr. Stewart and his family
were raided by 10 BATF agents and 3 Mesa police at their home in Mesa, Arizona
on June 16. Mr. Stewart has for the
last several years sold incomplete .50 caliber rifle kits bearing no serial
numbers. His position is that the
kit is not a firearm as it is incapable of firing a live round without
significant modification. The BATF
raided his home in contention that the non-firing kits are in fact guns because
they are "readily made functional as explosive devices which fire a
projectile." (You can read the past news reports on this case here: http://www.maadi-griffin.com.)
Judge Anderson is a Vietnam
veteran (according to AZ libertarian party unaffiliated chair, Liz Andreasen,
who was present and taking copious notes to report for SierraTimes.com.)
A judge who fought in the war our own President evaded is
hearing a case that could lead to a Second Amendment battle. And from what happened today and in Mr. Stewart's June 22
hearing, it looks like the judge is committed to issuing a fair opinion.
Following are detailed
accounts of today's hearing for people who wish to know more. I was there, and
these are my notes/thoughts on today's hearing.
Today's arguments revolved
around whether or not the .50 caliber kit is legally classifiable as a firearm. At issue is the definition of the word “readily” as in
“readily made to fire a projectile”. Mr.
Stewart doesn't have a federal firearms license and, if the court rules that he
was selling guns without a license, Stewart could be facing prison--again--and
this is where this case gets sticky. Mr.
Stewart was convicted of a felony in 1994 for manufacturing and transferring
fully automatic machine guns. Bob
Stewart spent 1 year and 4 months of his life behind bars for what both he and
his lovely wife hold to this day as "a setup to run us out of
business". He is a convicted felon, and the government says a convicted
felon cannot have possession of a gun, period.
(Yes, that includes residents of Maine who get caught with a lobster
under the legal weight requirement, and yes, that includes women who've been
raped three times in Massachusetts and get caught carrying a gun because they
aren’t interested in there being a 4th. Felony means no gun in your possession
unless the felony is expunged from the court records, sayeth King George. Please
pardon my digression.) But court
rulings since Mr. Stewart’s conviction are expected to get his conviction
overturned, so a legal web is weaving itself in odd circumstances aplenty.
Back to today’s hearing…
BATF's attorney, Mr. Welty,
in his opening statements today held up an assembled .50 Maadi-Griffin rifle kit
and said, "We're here today to answer the question 'Is this a gun?'" The issue was not whether or not a converted Maadi-Griffin
kit is a gun; the issue hinges on whether or not a Maadi-Griffin KIT is
“readily” rendered into a workable firearm. The judge let it ride, and so
did Bob Stewart's defense attorney, Mr. Haney. The opening statements otherwise
seemed rather bland. At one point,
the judge urged both counsels to "get to the reason we are here."
A partial kit that was stolen
from Bob Stewart's home during the raid on June 16 was entered as evidence. The
kit that BATF purchased through an undercover agent and PARTIALLY (more on that
in a moment) converted was also admitted as evidence.
The instruction manual for converting the kit was admitted, as well.
And then the hair splitting
Each side called one expert
witness apiece, and each side cross examined the other’s witness.
BATF got first dibs and called Curtis Barlett, the BATF Chief of Firearms
Technology from their D.C. office. Mr.
Bartlett has been at his job "classifying firearms" for 26 of his 27
years with the agency. Though he claims he has testified in approximately 300
court cases for his employer, the federal government, he cannot remember the
last time he has converted or heard of the conversion of a kit for
investigation—“maybe 10 years”. In
the same breath, he testified that he knows of many similar kits of various
makes and models advertised in a magazine he claims to read: Shotgun News.
Expert Witness Bartlett
explained that he was able to assemble the entire kit into a firearm in a total
of 80 minutes: 15 minutes to read the manual, 35 minutes to cut and otherwise
modify the receiver, and 30 minutes to assemble the contraption into a workable
firearm. Here is where the BATF
exhibits a severe case or moronism: Mr. Barlett explained that he then fired a
blank cartridge (not a bullet, a primer inside a .50 caliber shell casing) to
"prove" that it was now, after 80 minutes of focus, a firearm!
Yes, you read that right. He
didn’t fire the only ammo the gun is designed to fire and traveled all the way
across the nation at taxpayers’ expenses to testify on the conversion time of
the kit he didn’t fully convert. Brilliant
Cross examination by defense
attorney Haney posed an obvious question: How much more time would you have put
into the job of converting this kit into a firearm if you were going to fire a
real round of live ammunition? Bartlett's
response after much quibbling: probably twice as much time. Further questioning
of this “expert” government agent revealed that several of the required
modifications of the kit were not made, either.
These required modifications as spelled out in the assembly manual of
which BATF has numerous copies include welding, determining proper fit (headspacing)
to assure safe firing of a live round, fastening of the muzzle brake, and a
couple of other things stated in plain English in the instruction manual,
suggesting that along with having a propensity for invading people's homes in
Nazi-style no-knock raids and pointing unregistered machine guns at little kids,
BATF cannot read or follow simple instructions.
Agent Bartlett defended his
lack of complete conversion by stating that "as long as it can fire one
round, it is a firearm, and our conversion could be made to fire one
round." How much money we could collect in a pool to get him to fire his
incomplete conversion will forever remain a mystery, but I'd put up my best
rifle just to watch him shoot the partially-modified "firearm"—but
I’d be watching with interest from a distance.
caliber cartridge holds enough gun powder to cause significant problems for the
shooter if it is partially or improperly assembled. This 26 year expert
knows that, and he knows he didn't follow the instructions, and he darn sure
wouldn't fire that semi-assembled kit with a live round--but he came to testify
in court to help lock a man behind bars in the hopes that the judge would buy
what he was shoveling. Pathetic, and most typical of the federal
The next witness was called
by Bob Stewart’s defense attorney, Mr. Haney.
Mr. Haney called Bill Richardson to the stand.
Mr. Richardson is a firearms manufacturer consultant of 18 years, and
apparently a specialist in the field of computerized machining equipment.
While Mr. Richardson stated plainly that to do the job right on a
conversion of a Maadi-Griffin kit would require specialized skill or a good
amount of time for a novice, he did concede that the machining of the receiver
could be accomplished in the amount of time it took the BATF’s primer-firing
Chief of Firearms Technology if someone was skilled in the craft of firearms
conversion. Nothing seemed to be gained or lost on either side from Mr.
Richardson’s testimony, but his bias toward the defense of Mr. Stewart was
readily apparent. Of the 23 people
in the courtroom audience, I also estimate that 18-20 of us were there in
support of Bob Stewart, as well.
The judge was paying
attention to this shenanigans displayed by the BATF’s “specialist” who
didn’t even finish the conversion OR fire a real live round of real live ammo,
and his eyebrows went up more than once during Bartlett's testimony. My personal
opinion is that he will come back and rule that a complete conversion was never
made, because it wasn't. (We will know for sure on Thursday.)
But I don't think this case will hinge on the amount of time it took for
the feds to partially convert Bob Stewart's kit. This case is going to get much
bigger than that. Bob Stewart
believes his case is going to require a ruling on the Second Amendment, and he
may just be right. Allow me to
If the judge rules that the
kit is NOT a firearm, according to the rules of admissibility in the district
court, the BATF will not be allowed to admit any other evidence outside of the
items mentioned in the search warrant. Bob
Stewart says he will then sue the BATF for a host of infringements and
infractions against himself and his family. Pointing a gun at his 7-year-old
boy. Cuffing his wife, Naomi, in their front yard for all the neighbors to see.
Cuffing Mr. Stewart for two hours with two thugs holding glock pistols to
his head while they trashed his home without showing him the search warrant he
was very vocally demanding to see, stole his computer, all his files and
records, the kits he was repairing for his customers, et cetera. If Mr. Stewart
was breaking no law, these guys screwed up royally—and he intends to make them
pay for their mistake in money he says will go to set up a legal defense
foundation to help other gun owners who are similarly victimized by the hired
thugs of federal agencies.
On the other hand, if the
judge rules that the Maadi-Griffin kit IS a firearm, Bob Stewart intends to
appeal based on his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
According to Mr. Stewart, should the judge rule that the kit is a
firearm, when court rulings that have occurred since his conviction overturn
that conviction and restore his rights, he genuinely believes he can ride this
case to a jury trial--and win. Lofty? Yes. Doable?
Bob Stewart is convinced.
We shall see.
I will attend the judge’s
ruling on Thursday, July 13, and I will offer a full report to all who are on
our email list at that time. If
this report was forwarded to you, feel free to sign up for our email reports on
our site at http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com.
We are also offering a brand
new, fully operational, all stainless steel .50 caliber Maadi-Griffin to a lucky
member of our organization. As soon
as we reach 2,500 members, we're putting all the names in a hat and picking the
lucky winner. All you need to do to
get your name in the hat is support our organization by becoming a member for
$29.95. We genuinely require
financial assistance, and we just made the commitment to give 20% of every penny
generated from this membership drive from this day forward to the Bob Stewart
Defense Fund. You’ll get a
one-year membership with our organization plus a chance to win a fine rifle plus
a chance to help Bob Stewart. Contrary
to his earlier statements, he does in fact need financial help if this case is
to go much further. Please help us
press on. Please help us help Bob
Stewart's legal drive. Please join
our organization and get your name in the drawing to win the king of all
rifles—the Maadi-Griffin .50 caliber Stainless Model 89.
A PICTURE OF THE RIFLE WE ARE GIVING AWAY.
Angel Shamaya is the Executive
Director of KeepAndBearArms.com, a membership-funded
internet grassroots organization dedicated to stopping the assault on American
Liberty being perpetrated by political
television gurus, misguided
toy distribution chains, and the general lack of understanding of the
right to Keep And Bear Arms--resulting in a return
to the American Constitutional Republic. Reprint permission granted provided
attribution is given including the following link: http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com.
Copyright 2000. All ownership rights reserved, but spread this one far and wide
through all channels that could serve the cause of LIBERTY; you don't even need
to ask. To become a member of KeepAndBearArms.com, click
here. We require assistance to press on.