In 2018, federal agents revealed that guns made by Jimenez Arms, Inc. had been funneled into an alleged trafficking network based in Kansas City, Missouri. The network’s suspected leader, a local fire department captain, had allegedly purchased pistols directly from the company even though he lacked the appropriate license. Two years later, Jimenez Arms filed for bankruptcy. For Alvino Crawford and his wife Beverly, the bankruptcy triggered mixed emotions. It imperiled their lawsuit against Jimenez Arms, the low-end gunmaker that had produced the allegedly trafficked handgun used to kill their 29-year-old son in 2016. But the Crawfords believed that their efforts had helped compel the 15-year-old company to shutter, and they took solace knowing they might have spared other parents the pain of losing a child to its products.
“I feel like [Jimenez Arms closing] is a jumping-off point, not only for people here in Kansas City, but also for those around the country who want to hold gun manufacturers accountable for inappropriate behavior,” Alvino Crawford told The Trace at the time. “I just hope they don’t find a loophole or some way to reorganize and start doing the same thing again.” Less than two months after declaring Jimenez Arms insolvent, however, the company’s president, Paul Jimenez, had begun reorganizing the operation. In late April, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives granted him a license to manufacture firearms under the name JA Industries LLC, at a facility located within walking distance of Jimenez Arms’ former headquarters. The Crawfords were shocked when their attorneys told them the news. “It’s unconscionable to think that Mr. Jimenez would be able to do this,” Alvino Crawford said. Paul Jimenez’s repackaging of his company reflects a time-tested strategy for countering litigation and regulatory scrutiny. JA Industries is at least the 12th gunmaking business operated by members and close associates of the same extended family since 1970. Several of those companies closed as the outfits or their executives faced criminal accusations, federal investigation, or lawsuits alleging the handguns their factories produced were prone to spontaneously discharge, explode, or be used in crime. [full article]