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ATF Sued by State of Illinois, City of Kansas City, Everytown Law over Firearms License Granted to Manufacturer Tied to Gun Trafficking

1.19.2021

After Jimenez Arms Declared Bankruptcy Amid Lawsuits Alleging it Repeatedly Broke Federal Firearms Law, ATF Granted Firearms License to Its Owner for A Company Under New Name

Reporting from the Daily Beast and The Trace Details the Manufacturer’s ‘Time-Tested Strategy for Countering Litigation and Regulatory Scrutiny’

NEW YORK — The State of Illinois, the City of Kansas City, Mo. and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund have filed a lawsuit seeking to force federal regulators to revoke a firearms license granted to the successor company of now-bankrupt Jimenez Arms, Inc., citing evidence that Jimenez Arms repeatedly broke federal firearms law, contributing to gun trafficking and criminal activity in Illinois and Kansas City, and that its owner misled the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in previous licensing applications. 

The complaint also alleges that the ATF conducted a deficient investigation before deciding to grant the new license, a particularly dangerous example of what prior reporting has shown to be lax oversight by the agency. Notably, data from 2017-2019 shows that the ATF denied 0.1% of applications received. 
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit seeks a court order compelling the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to revoke a license granted last year to J.A. Industries — which is run by Mr. Paul Jimenez, the owner of Jimenez Arms — that allows it to manufacture and sell firearms. The federal firearms license in question was granted just three months after Jimenez Arms declared bankruptcy amid lawsuits, one from the city of Kansas City, alleging it repeatedly broke federal law and sold at least 32 guns to a man who has since been charged with gun trafficking.

“This is a story of a dangerous regulatory failure,” said Alla Lefkowitz, director of Affirmative Litigation at Everytown Law. “With so many red flags about this company in the ATF’s own records, it should never have even been a close call whether to allow it to continue selling guns under a new name. Our case alleges ATF’s decision was not just inexcusable but unlawful, and it should be revoked before more guns manufactured by Paul Jimenez are trafficked into American cities.”
“When trafficked guns from other states are putting Illinois residents at risk, our fight against gun violence can’t end at the state border,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.“Illinois residents expect government officials to do all we can to protect their communities from gun violence, carjackings, drugs and other crimes, and fighting gun trafficking is a critical component. My office has worked with Everytown to develop a comprehensive approach to combatting illegal gun trafficking that includes, but is not limited to, affirmative litigation. After flouting federal law and contributing to criminal activity in Chicago and other cities, Jimenez Arms should have been held accountable by the ATF – not allowed to keep operating under a new name.”

“Gun violence is a public health crisis in Kansas City and so many communities across our country—getting illegal guns off the streets will save lives,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “It is inexcusable that the regulators we rely on to enforce federal gun laws have failed to take action despite clear evidence that Jimenez Arms contributed to gun trafficking, which led to lives taken too soon in our community.“This effort is about accountability—and about protecting Kansas Citians. The Everytown gun lawsuit will address the most significant threat to public safety in our community: gun violence. As we continue our work to save the lives of Kansas Citians—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, and sadly, children—efforts to identify and prosecute those who illegally obtain or provide guns to those should not have them, as defined by law, will remain a priority and part of the solution.” Among the allegations in today’s lawsuit:

  • The president of JA Industries, Paul Jimenez, has been manufacturing in some form for more than a decade, including as Jimenez Arms. Every year for over a decade, Jimenez’s firearms manufacturing operation has churned out tens of thousands of low-quality, disposable handguns that are particularly attractive to traffickers. These pistols are deadly weapons that are priced to be disposable, routinely retailing for less than $150.
  • Firearms originating from the operation in Nevada—which has at times been among the 15 largest pistol manufacturers in the country—have been used at and retrieved from crime scenes in American cities like Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri at a rate disproportionate to their market share.
    • Between 2014 and 2018, Chicago police recovered 378 Jimenez Arms pistols, and Kansas City, Missouri police recovered, seized or held as evidence 166 Jimenez Arms pistols.
  • Jimenez Arms did business for years with Kansas City firearms trafficker James Samuels, who has since pled guilty to violating a host of federal gun laws. Among other violations of the firearms laws, today’s lawsuit and prior lawsuits allege that Jimenez Arms shipped guns directly to Samuels’ home, even though he knew or consciously avoided knowing that he was facilitating Samuels in skirting federal gun laws and regulations.
  • During two routine inspections in 2012 and 2017, the ATF cited Jimenez Arms with serious recordkeeping violations that were consistent with Jimenez’s involvement in trafficking. But the ATF only held a warning conference “in lieu of revocation” and issued Jimenez a warning letter.
  • In February 2020, in an apparent effort to avoid accountability for its illegal actions and dispel its debts, Jimenez Arms declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy amid multiple lawsuits. Paul Jimenez now calls the operation “JA Industries,” but the company continues to sell the same guns as before.
  • Today’s case alleges that due to false statements to the ATF and the unlawful shipment of guns to a gun trafficker, Jimenez was disqualified from holding an FFL. But rather than follow the law and put an end to Jimenez’s illicit and dangerous career in the firearms industry, the ATF approved JA Industries LLC’s request for an FFL.