It seems that everyone’s most favorite and benevolent government agency has moved on from pestering solvent trap and Form 1 parts kit manufacturers and upgraded to harassing novelty business card makers. For those that don’t know, AutoKeyCard is or was, a company that simply made and sold metal business cards that featured an outline of the fabled Lightning Link.
The Lightning Link as many of you know is a piece of bent metal that can allow an otherwise semi-auto AR-15 to be fired full-auto by dropping the auto sear into the lower receiver. As of March 7th, 2021, the AutoKeyCard website has been seized and the owner Kristopher Ervin has been arrested for allegedly manufacturing machine guns.
AutoKeyCard Shut Down, Website Seized, Owner Arrested
Metal business cards aren’t really all that odd anymore as they have become increasingly popular with high-end professions (designers, lawyers, investment bankers, etc.). What Mr. Ervin did with the AutoKeyCard doesn’t even come anywhere close to the manufacture and sale of machine guns unless you consider schematics or drawings to be manufacturing now.
The ATF cited some regulations about possessing the parts to readily assembly a machine gun, however, from where I stand, I don’t see how having an etched piece of metal constitutes a working machine gun. Drop-in auto sears (DIAS) do exist as pre-86 transferable and some are actually for sale online for SOT manufacturers but are illegal to manufacture or own otherwise. The Auto Key Card was not a drop-in auto sear.
If you really wanted to stretch the definition of parts that are readily convertible to a machine gun I could think of a number of things that are far closer to a working machine gun than the business card (improperly installed triggers, sticks, stiff leather belts, Jerry Miculek’s right index finger, etc.). Trying to play devil’s advocate, I attempted to make the assertion that the process of etching the metal card in the shape of a DIAS could possibly be construed as some sort of half-ass 80% auto-sear type deal but it wouldn’t even be anywhere near close to 80% completion.
To be quite honest, I feel as if anyone who has more than a handful of brain cells to rub together could figure out far easier methods to convert many weapons from semi-auto to true full-auto without so much as leaving our houses.
The ATF has stated that it now considered the possession of any AutoKeyCard to be a felony on the grounds that the owner of said card is in possession of an item that violates the NFA regulations and as a result could face a fine of up to $250,000 for each “device” owned. The ATF has advised anyone who owns an AutoKeyCard to contact them so that it can be turned in but has not stated that any sort of amnesty would be granted for those who own such items.
Obviously, you should use caution if you do own such a device, and contacting a professional legal representative (lawyer) might not be a bad idea before you go contacting the ATF. This is one fancy business card I think might have been right of Patrick Bateman’s alley.