An Arizona man who manufactures and sells .50-caliber gun kits,
by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in a raid last Friday, was released from jail on his own recognizance at a bail hearing yesterday afternoon, when the judge disallowed a last-minute effort by the government to enter an additional charge against him.
Cathy Colbert of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix, told WorldNetDaily there would be a hearing in two weeks to see if Robert Stewart, 61, can continue his business while on pre-trial release. According to Stewart, who called in to the
Alex Jones radio talk show late last night, he can continue his business for now, but the hearing will be to determine if the receiver on his kit-rifle is legal or not.
In the past week, talk show hosts on the
Genesis Communication Network rallied listeners into faxing U.S. Magistrate Lawrence O. Anderson in support of Stewart. The judge held up a thick stack of the faxes in the courtroom, says Stewert, indicating he had read them.
“That man is a fair judge, I have a good feeling about him,” said Stewart. “He actually takes the time to read. I actually saw about 15 stickers that he had put for special attention on some of those faxes that were brought in.”
Stewart manufactures the
Maadi-Griffin, a high-quality kit gun that requires a small amount of machining before it can be assembled by the customer. Because the unfinished receiver requires milling, the kits are sold without serial numbers and are not considered by Stewart to be firearms. Other Maadi-Griffin.50-caliber kit guns with finished receivers and serial numbers are manufactured at another location away from his home in a federal firearms licensed facility.
In 1994, Stewart was convicted in a Utah federal court for illegal possession of a machine gun. Contrary to the
account given to
WorldNetDaily by Bo Gritz in a previous article, court records show Stewart was indicted in May 1993 for possessing and transferring five automatic “Sten” guns. After pleading guilty to one count of possession, the other counts were dismissed, and Stewart was sentenced to two years’ probation. Stewart says he was entrapped.
Because of his felony conviction, Stewart cannot legally possess any firearms. A staunch Second Amendment advocate, Stewart believes all state and federal firearms laws are unconstitutional and illegal. He also says someone who has served his sentence should not be penalized afterward by having his or her Second Amendment rights restricted.
Stewart continued to manufacture his Maadi-Griffin kit guns after his conviction and advertised them without trouble until last week.
In last Friday’s raid, the BATF arrested Stewart for felony possession of a firearm. Federal agents said they found 38 firearms in his home, including six machine guns, but the criminal complaint filed the day after the raid charged him with possessing a single Ruger New Model Blackhawk .357 magnum revolver.
According to Special Agent Lawrence A. Bettendorf, there were two firearms in Stewart’s closet in plain view. The Ruger revolver was found in Stewart’s bedroom closet “on a shelf above his pants.” Bettendorf said Stewart’s wife Naomi told him she thought they were BB guns.
WorldNetDaily asked BATF spokesman Tom Mangan why Stewart was only charged with possessing one pistol, when agents claimed to remove 38 firearms including machine guns, from his home. Mangan said it is common to charge someone initially with only what is necessary in order to hold him. Cathy Colbert of the U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed that explanation and said that in the next 30 days additional charges can be brought before the grand jury for a possible indictment.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Morton Sitver issued the warrant on June 14 at 5:37 pm, for a search to be performed on or before June 23.
According to a copy of the application and affidavit for the search warrant, all buildings and vehicles at Stewart’s residence were to be searched. Items to be seized were:
- Any firearm or ammunition.
- Any firearm parts or components.
- Documents related to ownership of firearms
- Documents showing control of the residence or room where evidence is seized.
- Shipping invoices and receipts.
- Computers, disks and other computer storage devices.
The purpose of the warrant, according to the affidavit, was to seize evidence of “engaging in the business of manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license” and “felon shipping/possessing a firearm affecting interstate commerce.” The BATF would not release an itemized list of evidence seized when requested by WorldNetDaily.
On March 31, Bettendorf initiated an investigation into alleged firearm violations by Stewart and his wife Naomi. The investigation was prompted by information from ATF regulatory inspectors that Robert Stewart was engaged in the business of firearms parts kits.
Until recently, Bettendorf was the public affairs officer for the Phoenix BATF. Bettendorf purchased a copy of Shotgun News on April 6 and checked the
Maadi-Griffin website on April 18 to gather details about the company from its advertising.
Bettendorf obtained Stewart’s criminal and motor vehicle records and sent an undercover agent to contact Stewart about buying a rifle kit. From the account by the undercover agent, Stewart spoke to him like he believed what he was doing was legal. Stewart told him he kept the operation at his home limited to the unfinished parts kits, and that assembly of the kits could not take place at his home.
The agent, however, said Stewart told him that he talked to an individual named “Williams” from ATF about the parts kit. “Stewart said that Williams was concerned that the receiver could be readily converted into a firearm. Stewart said he ‘blew him off,’ and it does not make any difference if it is easy or difficult to convert the receiver.”
The .50- caliber rifle kit purchased by the undercover agent was sent to the ATF Firearms Technology Branch for examination. On June 1, Bettendorf received a report from Curtis Bartlett at the Technology Branch, which determined that the rifle kit, including the unfinished receiver, could be readily converted to expel a projectile and met the definition of a firearm under 18 USC section 921-(a) (3).
The particular code section cited by the technology branch reads, in part, “(3) The term ‘firearm’ means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon .”
Bartlett reported that he made the required cuts on the receiver in approximately 35 minutes using a Dremel hand grinder. He then completely assembled the rifle and successfully fired it.
Bettendorf ran a check of ATF licensing records on June 7 to see if Robert or Naomi Stewart, Maadi-Griffin or JNS supply were licensed to sell or manufacture firearms. Bettendorf said he found none. The agent obtained a search warrant based on probable cause that Robert and his wife Naomi are manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license, and Robert is a felon shipping/possessing a firearm affecting interstate commerce.
The text for a radio ad for the Maadi-Griffin, which still runs on the Genesis Communication Network, reads in part, “When it’s time to call out the big guns, it’s time to call out the Maadi-Griffin and the .50-Caliber BMG … Get this, there’s no federal firearms license, federal firearms tax, or registration required — ever. The kits can be assembled in less than an hour-and-a-half including millwork. Even though these babies are super high power and incredibly accurate at long range, the recoil is less than a twelve-gauge shotgun. . At Maadi-Griffin, they honor your Fourth Amendment rights — no records, no serial numbers, no worries. All kits are complete and have a lifetime warranty .”
Bob Stewart said he thinks the BATF was really after his customer list, and apologized on the air to his customers that he was unable to prevent his records, including credit card information, from being seized by the BATF. Stewart advised people who purchased his rifle to put it away someplace and be prepared for a knock on the door.
“They’ve got your number,” he said. Read previous story:
BATF raids gun-kit manufacturer
Ed Oliver is a contributing writer to WorldNetDaily.