Disappointed, but not surprised—that’s all I have to say about this latest bit of Second Amendment news. 28-year-old Patrick Tate Adamiak was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison on charges relating to the National Firearms Act of 1934. Officially, he was convicted last October for possessing and selling unregistered machine guns and destructive devices, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The problem is, none of that ever even happened.
Adamiak, who goes by his middle name, has served honorably as an enlisted sailor in the U.S. Navy for the past eleven years. His service record is exemplary as far as the public is aware, including the Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist qualification, a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and a Good Conduct Medal. While in the Navy, Adamiak began a small business called Black Dog Arsenal, legally selling unregulated firearm parts. Among these were demilitarized (“demilled”) parts kits for military surplus submachine guns and grenade launchers. Through his legally registered business and using a credit card, Adamiak traded these parts on GunBroker, a popular and publicly usable website. In other words, all of these transactions were completely above-board, because Adamiak knew these items were not legally firearms.
Under U.S. firearm law, a firearm’s receiver is the legally regulated component; a receiver that has been physically cut apart is generally no longer considered to be a firearm. Unless the receiver is “readily convertible” to a working configuration, it can be bought and sold just like the scrap metal it is, and ATF has published guidance on how this demilitarization process should be done. The idea here is that a licensed manufacturer can buy these parts kits and use jigs and machine tools to rebuild them into legal semi-automatic firearms. The parts Adamiak sold included receiver flats, cut-up receivers, grenade launcher parts, inert training devices, and an RPG-7 that had been disabled; all of which had already been imported legally with ATF approval. None of these components are working firearms, and none of them are even considered to be firearms under the law, so Adamiak could not have possessed or transferred unregistered NFA items because those NFA items never existed.
Instead of mailing Tate Adamiak a cease-and-desist notice or sending agents to clear up any misunderstanding, ATF chose to raid his house and confiscate his money and property. Upon realizing the supposed machineguns and destructive devices were actually just a pile of nonfunctional parts, ATF shipped them off to its Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division, where its in-house gunsmiths rebuilt them into working firearms. The disabled RPG-7 was so inert that federal agents had to use a cutter and a welding torch to rebuild it and install their own firing mechanism. After professionally rebuilding these firearms in its own machine shop, ATF used them as evidence in its case against Adamiak. In short, the government took unregulated parts, used them to build machine guns and destructive devices, then used those to strip a young veteran of his rights and lock him in prison for 20 years.
The jury should not have convicted Adamiak, but they were clearly confused by the prosecution distorting the facts of the case and convincing them a crime had been committed when, in fact, no such thing had ever occurred. Tate Adamiak was convicted for owning and selling nonexistent machine guns and destructive devices. This comes soon after the infamous AutoKeyCard case, in which two men were convicted and sentenced to extensive prison terms for effectively selling drawings of fire control parts. For some reason, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has been allowed to turn itself into a sort of secret police, reversing its own rulings without warning and openly lying in legal proceedings so it can condemn innocent people to prison.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—the ATF needs to be abolished outright. When any agency begins creating crimes and criminals out of thin air where no victim or even contraband exists, it must at the very least be totally restructured and have its employees replaced from top to bottom with ones who actually work for the American people. Otherwise, this kind of scenario will continue to play out and innocent lives will continue to be destroyed.