Federal Court gets restraining order against company selling machine guns

February 1, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Sales of a device that prosecutors claim was designed to get around machine gun laws were halted on Thursday when a judge from the Eastern District of New York granted a temporary restraining order against the companies that were illegally selling them.

The devices are called FRT-15s and they are designed to convert AR-15 rifles into machine guns. prosecutors said that since the devices are designed and intended to be used to convert AR-15s into machine guns, that they themselves are machine guns under federal law, and thus illegal under the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act of 1968.

Prosecutors filed for a temporary restraining order to halt the sale of FRT-15s on Jan. 19, and on Jan. 25, Hon. Nina Morrison entered the order that halted a company called Rare Breed Firearms from selling them.

“The defendants are illegally selling machine guns, plain and simple, with conversion devices that transform AR-15 type rifles into even more lethal weapons suited 2 for battlefields, not our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.

Rare Breed Triggers, LLC and Rare Breed Firearms, LLC are owned and operated by Lawrence DeMonico, also known as Larry R. Lee, Jr., and Kevin Maxwell. The complaint filed against them alledges that they have unlawfully sold thousands of FRT-15s, and have mislead consumers about the legality of such devices.

“These machine gun conversion devices—which are machine guns under federal law—can turn any semi-automatic AR-type firearm into a weapon capable of shooting at a rate of fire similar to or exceeding that of an M16 machine gun manufactured for military use,” said John B. DeVito, special agent in charge at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, NY Field Division. 

“Since 1934, machine guns have been subject to strict federal controls, and since 1986, machine guns have been subject to an outright prohibition,” DeVito continued. “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.”

In the restraining order, the judge explained that there was probable cause to believe that the “Defendants’ fraudulent conduct is ongoing and imminent,” and added the, “Defendants failed to register FRT-15s for the purpose of counseling from ATF the sale and transfer of these items.” It explained that the restraining order was necessary because people have allegedly been tricked into believing that these devices are legal.

This effort was done through the EDNY’s Civil Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence that U.S. Attorney Peace created in 2022. It complements the EDNY Criminal Division’s prosecution of gun-related crimes and works collaboratively on the Initiative with the Consumer Protection branch of the Department of Justice.

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