The anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety has joined forces with politicians in Kansas City and Illinois to sue the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for issuing a federal firearms license to a manufacturer allegedly known to contribute to gun-related crime in Kansas City and Chicago.
Last year, Kansas City and Everytown sued Jimenez Arms for knowingly or negligently selling firearms to illegal gun runners in Missouri. Jimenez Arms declared bankruptcy a month later, but owner Paul Jimenez soon reorganized as JA Industries, secured another FFL, and kept producing firearms. Everytown, et al, is suing the ATF because they believe the feds should not have issued a new license to JA Industries.
“I wasn’t surprised Mr. Jimenez tried to get a new license, but I was shocked the ATF let it happen,” said Alla Lefkowitz, the director of affirmative litigation for Everytown Law. “They’re letting him make a mockery of the licensing process.”
“It is inexcusable that the regulators we rely on to enforce federal gun laws have failed to take action despite the clear evidence that Jimenez Arms contributed to gun trafficking,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “This effort is about accountability — and it’s also protecting Kansas City residents by addressing an ongoing threat to public safety in our city.”
The plaintiffs claim that the ATF knew Jimenez Arms had been selling firearms to illegal gun dealers in Kansas City. James Samuels, a former Kansas City firefighter, operated a gun-running ring in the city primarily using Jimenez Arms firearms. Samuels allegedly trafficked 77 firearms into Kansas City, 57 of which were from Jimenez, according to an affidavit written by an ATF agent. Usually, Samuels ordered the firearms from Jimenez and had them sent to a local FFL, but at one point, Samuels had 11 firearms shipped directly to his house.
It’s unclear how much Jimenez and his employees knew about Samuels’ activities. According to the same affidavit, Samuels was able to have firearms shipped to his house because he told Jimenez that his FFL had changed their address. When Jimenez Arms employees contacted Samuels and asked him about straw purchasing, he assured them that he made buyers visit the FFL and pass a background check before purchasing.
This isn’t the first time Paul Jimenez had been involved in a bankruptcy following a lawsuit. Jimenez purchased Jimenez Arms—then called Bryco Arms—from his old boss, Bruce Jennings, in a bankruptcy auction. Jennings declared bankruptcy after he lost a lawsuit brought by the family of a boy who was accidentally shot with a Bryco Arms handgun. Jimenez, then the factory’s foreman, purchased the company for $510,000.
JA Industries can’t be found online, but their handguns are still being sold by at least one dealer in Missouri. The pistols bear a striking resemblance to those previously produced by Jimenez Arms.