Accusations and Indictments

A twenty-five-year-old 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team member stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, has been arrested for allegedly illegally manufacturing and selling parts that enable an AR-15 to be converted from semi-automatic to full automatic firing. The FBI is accusing Specialist Grant Lee Mosley of selling the parts online. He allegedly manufactured the parts using a 3D printer in his barracks room.

Sign reading, You are leaving Fort Bliss military reservation, Hasta La Vista
The accused could be potentially leaving Fort Bliss for a very long time. Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons and TomStar81

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s official webpage, the arrest resulted from a multi-agency effort. Agents from the El Paso Field Office of the FBI worked with the US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Their combined efforts resulted in Mosley’s arrest. They state he is accused of manufacturing and dealing in firearms without holding a Federal Firearms License (FFL).

The specific part Mosely stands accused of allegedly manufacturing is the AR-15 auto sear. So, you may be thinking, what is an AR 15 auto sear? I’m glad you asked. According to our friends at the ATF:

“The auto sear known by various trade names including ‘AR15 Auto Sear,’ ‘Drop InAuto Sear,’ and ‘Auto Sear II,’ is a combination of parts designed and intended for use in
converting a weapon to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by asingle function of the trigger. Consequently, the auto sear is a machinegun as defined by 26
U.S.C. 5845(b).” 

Leave it to the federal government to confuse us a little bit. The United States Concealed Carry Association puts it a bit more succinctly; according to them, a sear is defined as “the part of the trigger mechanism which holds the hammer, striker or bolt back until the correct amount of pressure has been applied to the trigger. At that moment, the hammer, striker, or bolt is released to discharge the weapon.” 

This printed auto sear was being sold online (I’m not going to tell you where) as a “mask hanger.” Note the smiley face. YouTube screenshot via Reno May

Mosley also allegedly made quarter-sized switches for Glock handguns. These turn the semi-automatic pistol into a fully automatic weapon capable of emptying a 30-round magazine in less than 2 seconds. See below.

Video of Glock 17 converted to full auto using a switch courtesy of YouTube and hickok45.

Mosley supposedly used a “to remain unnamed” social media platform to advertise and sell machine gun conversion devices, both switches, and sears. This, as you might have guessed, violates federal law. According to Stars and Stripes, the FBI first found his discussions and messages about the items on [REDACTED] last May. Then, beginning in June, the soldier talked on this platform about starting a business. Court documents filed in the Western District of Texas state that Mosely wrote: “Who want [SIC] to help me start my business? A gun manufacturing business. The machine I need with all the parts and components is 3500…The machine will allow me to do AR15s, AR10s, P80s, 911s, and AK47s right from the start.”

Your Trusted Social Media Buddy Might Really Be an FBI Agent

Guess what happened next? That’s right, friends and federal agents were more than willing to talk with the Specialist and pose as interested buyers. They sent him money through a smartphone app, and in turn, he sent them the goods, covered with his fingerprints. Documents filed with the court show that law enforcement paid Mosely $400 for five auto sears in one instance. These types of investigations, of course, are not conducted solely online. In his Fort Bliss barracks, agents witnessed Mosley discard trash into a dumpster. In that trash were receipts for transporting the items in question through the United States Postal Service.

Stripes reported that federal agents with a search warrant through an El Paso storage unit being rented by Mosley. There they found a 3D printer and materials of the same type used to make the sears and switches. He was arrested on August 2nd and, on that same day, confessed to his illegal activities. During interrogation, he told federal investigators that he owned three firearms, one of which he converted to fully automatic using his product to see if it worked as intended. It did.

On the day of Mosley’s arrest, US Army CID Special Agent in Charge Ray A Rayos told the press, “Today’s arrest underscores CID’s unrelenting resolve to hold accountable anyone within our ranks who engages in criminal activity. This case is another example of CID’s commitment to our law enforcement partners to make our communities safe.”

Specialist Mosley was formally indicted on August 25th. Each count holds a possible sentence of five to ten years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

By rounding this guy up, the FBI probably did prospective buyers a favor in terms of safety as well. Simply replacing the sear on a semi-auto AR-!5 is not enough to make it work reliably and safely in full auto. A safely done full auto conversion also requires an M-16 hammer, selector, trigger, disconnector, and bolt carrier installed.  Maybe a new lower receiver as well made to take these parts that is thicker and more robust. You might also want to go with a thicker barrel to withstand the higher pressures and heat a fully automatic AR would generate versus its more sedate, and rated at 20 rounds per minute AR-15.