** FILE **This August 2003 photo provided by attorney Richard Ruggieri shows boxes of un-assembled Bryco Model 38 handguns at the Bryco Arms company in Costa Mesa, Calif. The California attorney general's office issued a cease-and-desist order to Jimenez Arms, formerly known as Bryco Arms, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006, effectively shutting down its gun-making operation. (AP Photo/Richard Ruggieri)

Successor to Bryco Arms, maker of gun that paralyzed Willits boy, failed tests

SAN FRANCISCO - The state attorney general's office has ordered Jimenez Arms, the maker of inexpensive semiautomatic handguns, to stop making guns after several models repeatedly failed safety tests.

The cease and desist order was the latest setback for the company previously known as Bryco Arms, which was bankrupted by a $24 million court judgment after a teen was paralyzed by an accidental shooting.

Paul Jimenez, a former Bryco manager, bought the company for $510,000 during a widely publicized U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction in 2004. Jimenez outbid Brandon Maxfield, a paralyzed Willits teen who wanted to close the plant and melt down the weapons.

The Costa Mesa company produces four types of semiautomatic handguns that sell for about $150 each.

The firearms division of California's Department of Justice issued an order Aug. 22 prohibiting Jimenez from producing the guns because they failed independent tests done to ensure handguns are safe and will perform as they're designed. They failed for a variety of reasons, said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Last year, the company received a similar order to stop making its JA-9 model.

"He has no other guns that he makes that he can legally sell in California," Barankin said.

It was unclear, however, whether the factory was operating Wednes day. Few cars were in the parking lot, and mail was stuck in the slot of a locked door. A woman who answered said no one was available to comment.

Reached by phone, Jimenez refused to answer most questions but said operations were "up and running" and he was not violating the state's order.

Barankin said Jimenez is repairing previously sold guns.

Maxfield, 17 at the time of the auction, said he wanted to buy the company that produced the cheap gun that altered his life . He was paralyzed from the neck down at age 7 when a family friend accidentally shot him while checking whether a gun made by Bryco was loaded.

In 2003, Maxfield won a record $24 million judgment against the company, its distribution arm and its owner. A jury in Oakland concluded that Bryco knew the pistol had a safety flaw - it could only be unloaded when its trigger safety catch was switched off.

After the first cease-and-desist order, Jimenez said he would move his operation to Henderson, Nev., in part because of California's safety regulations. He was issued a Nevada business license Aug. 30 and said that operation was running, but he wouldn't go into detail.

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