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Gun safety group lawsuit against ATF seeks to revoke license of Henderson gun manufacturer

Jannelle Calderon
Jannelle Calderon
Criminal JusticeEconomy & Business

A federal agency is being sued for granting a new firearms license to a Henderson gun manufacturer that is alleged to have illegally sold guns and contributed to criminal activity in Chicago and Kansas City. 

The state of Illinois, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and gun safety organization, Everytown, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Jan. 15 in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. 

The lawsuit urges the ATF to take accountability and revoke the firearms license it awarded JA Industries, formerly Jimenez Arms, which was sued last year on allegations of breaking federal firearms law and repeated violations of the Gun Control Act. 

“We're here today because a new company name shouldn't be enough to let this manufacturer stay in business — not with such strong evidence of a history of breaking the law and contributing to gun trafficking and violent crime,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a press call. 

In February, in an effort to discharge its debts, Jimenez Arms declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy amid multiple lawsuits. A month later, Paul Jimenez, owner of Jimenez Arms, applied for a Federal Firearms License for JA Industries and continued to sell the same guns as before. 

The complaint alleges that the ATF failed to properly investigate JA Industries before granting the new license. Plaintiffs argue that had ATF done such an investigation, it would have noted its own enforcement records that show Jimenez Arms’ recordkeeping violations, concluded that Jimenez was not a qualified applicant and would not have granted the Federal Firearms License. 

“With so many red flags about this company and this individual, it should never even have been a close call whether to grant them a license, allowing it to continue manufacturing and distributing guns under a new name,” Alla Lefkowitz, director of affirmative litigation at Everytown Law, said in a statement. “This continuing threat to public safety is absolutely unacceptable. ATF had the ability and the legal obligation to cut this threat off, but they failed to do so. So we're asking the court to undo the damage.”

The ATF told The Nevada Independent it “does not comment on matters in litigation.”

Jimenez specializes in low-quality pistols made from a zinc alloy with a low melting temperature that are made and priced to be “disposable” and retail for about $150. They have been used at and retrieved from crime scenes around the country, the plaintiffs said. 

Between 2014 and 2018, Chicago police recovered 378 Jimenez Arms pistols, and Kansas City, Missouri, police recovered and seized 166 Jimenez Arms pistols.

“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,” Lucas said. “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.”

Jimenez Arms did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment sent to what appeared to be an inactive Facebook page. No new Facebook page or website for JA Industries was found.


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