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NY judge dismisses ‘ghost gun’ charges saying feds lied on search warrant application

Row of handguns. (US Coast Guard Academy/Released)
April 21, 2021

A New York judge has dismissed a case involving a man whose homemade “ghost guns” were confiscated by law enforcement last year, citing a misleading search warrant application that was submitted by federal authorities with “reckless disregard” for the truth.

In January 2020, police raided the home of John Andrews, Jr., 52, alleging the New Yorker had purchased a solvent trap online with the intent of turning the device into an illegal suppressor, the Buffalo News reported.

The search warrant obtained by federal authorities, however, said Andrews had illegally purchased a silencer.

Solvent traps are gun accessories that have an opening on one end used to collect fluid while cleaning a gun. They are legal to possess.

“The choice of words used by the police in the application were persuasive and wrong,” Justice Christopher J. Burns wrote in his Jan. 14 decision to dismiss the case. “As a result, this court must find there was a reckless disregard for the true nature of the item and must suppress any items recovered through the search warrant.”

On the afternoon of January 7, 2020, West Seneca police, as well as agents from Homeland Security Investigations, ATF, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office arrived at Andrews’ home after his solvent trap purchase was flagged by Customs and Border Protection agents in California.

After entering his home, law enforcement located firearms that allowed them to charge Andrews with eight counts of felony weapons possession.

Americans who believe in the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms “should be very concerned about that,” said R. Anthony Rupp III, Andrews’ civil attorney.

“I do think that ATF and Homeland Security have decided that people who buy these solvent traps are very good candidates to be people who might have guns or be intending to do something with them,” Rupp later added.

Since the case’s dismissal, Andrews says he’s preparing a civil rights lawsuit, in addition to trying to get the guns that were taken during the illegal raid returned.

“This was all garbage,” Andrews said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The dismissal comes as President Joe Biden’s administration made moves to regulate firearms, including measures to help stop the growth of homemade guns.

By mid-May, the DOJ is expected to “issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of ‘ghost guns’” – homemade firearms built from gun kits.

“Today we’re taking steps to confront not just the gun crisis, but what is actually a public health crisis,” Biden said at the White House Rose Garden on April 8. “Nothing, nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment. Their phony argument suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake for what we’re talking about, but no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell fire in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech.”

“The idea is just bizarre to suggest that some of the things we’re recommending are contrary to the Constitution,” Biden added.