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With the state about to tap a surplus from gun registration fees to increase enforcement efforts, a group of 31 Republican lawmakers called Monday for an audit of the account to determine whether gun owners are being overcharged.
The legislators said the Dealers' Record of Sale Special Account should be looked at by the state auditor to determine whether the fee is set at a rate that only covers the state's cost to conduct the required background check of the gun purchaser.
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This update will provide you a thumbnail sketch of what is happening with key gun legislation in California. For more detailed information, follow the links provided.
CALL TO ACTION!
SB 140 (Leno) - Takes millions of unconstitutionally-collected Dealer Record of Sales (DROS) funds to compensate for the failure of more than 500 local law enforcement agencies not enforcing existing gun laws. Uses DROS funds to pay for CA DOJ expansion, including raids and confiscation of weapons from those whom the State deems to be prohibited based on unreliable data from an untrustworthy list.
Will be heard on the ASSEMBLY FLOOR either MONDAY, APRIL 15TH or THURSDAY, APRIL 18TH : Send an email NOW! CLICK HERE to TAKE ACTION NOW!
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via The Flash Report
This week, the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee will be considering a measure that demonstrates the absolute worst in government incompetence and thievery. SB 140 (Leno) outright steals money from a fund entirely paid for (and supposedly dedicated to) law-abiding gun owners to fund the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) failed firearms enforcement program.
These are the folks who, earlier this year, admitted that there could be tens of thousands of individuals in possession of firearms who have been deemed prohibited from doing so.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, April 12, 2013
The Calguns Foundation, 7 Californians Sue Attorney General Kamala Harris, DOJ Over Gun Delays
SAN CARLOS, CA – The Calguns Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven California residents today against Attorney General Kamala Harris, the California Department of Justice, and DOJ Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley. The case challenges the DOJ’s policy of requiring some firearm purchasers to prove their legal standing to take possession of acquired firearms and forcing them to wait beyond the statutory 10-day waiting period.
One plaintiff in the case, Daniel Schoepf of Long Beach, California, was denied his fundamental right to keep and bear arms for self-defense even after DOJ told him that he was legally eligible to purchase and possess firearms.
In 1984, Schoepf was detained in Los Angeles County for having two tablets in his pocket that were later discovered to be common, non-prescription pills. The detectives subsequently released Schoepf and no charges were filed. In 2006, DOJ firearms section Program Manager Steve Buford sent Schoepf a letter stating that he was eligible to purchase and possess firearms; however, in 2012, DOJ reversed that position and instructed Schoepf’s local firearms dealer to hold back delivery of Schoepf’s gun.
“I know I’m not alone in this, that DOJ is wrongly denying many Californians their Second Amendment rights just like they are mine,” said Schoepf. “I’m not a criminal and certainly not a disqualified convict but am a law abiding citizen with my Second Amendment rights fully intact. They left me no choice but to fight this injustice in court.”
“Over the past year, the DOJ has been directing California gun dealers to delay the release of firearms to people eligible to possess them – sometimes indefinitely,“ said Jason Davis, attorney for The Calguns Foundation. “The DOJ simply has no legal authority to justify their policy.”
The DOJ claims that these delays are primarily due to lack of information in their criminal history databases. In a July 2011 Los Angeles Times article, assistant attorney general Travis LeBlanc said the DOJ’s criminal records database system was “shoddy,” with the ‘guilty’, ‘not guilty’, or ‘case dismissed’ disposition information missing for about 7.7 million of the 16.4 million arrest records entered into the database over the last decade – and presumably much more for older cases.
“In essence, the DOJ is relying upon their improperly-maintained database to deny the fundamental rights of individuals,” said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of The Calguns Foundation. “That policy is entirely unacceptable and we look forward to putting an end to it.”
The attorney for plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Victor Otten, agrees.
“Our clients follow the law and so should the DOJ,” said Otten. “The DOJ is gleefully enforcing a policy that deprives my clients of their civil rights. The arrogance of the Department to think that it can abrogate the Constitution and statutory duties set by the Legislature is very unsettling.”
“This case really underscores the value of our DOJ Watch program,” said Brandon Combs, Executive Director of The Calguns Foundation. “Attorney General Harris’s hostility towards some civil rights predictably resulted in a shift away from former Attorney General Brown’s correct application of the law - and we are here to hold her accountable.”
The lawsuit is entitled Schoepf, et. al. vs. Kamala Harris, et. al. A copy of the complaint may be viewed or downloaded at http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/cgf_dros-delay-complaint.pdf.
The Calguns Foundation (www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which serves its members and the public by providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation, and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper or malicious prosecution. The Calguns Foundation seeks to inform government and protect the rights of individuals to acquire, own, and lawfully use firearms in California. Supporters may visit http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/donate to join or donate to CGF.
State of the Law
California has one of the most, if not the most, complex and convoluted regulatory structures relating to firearms in the entire United States. The system created by the legislature has been a thorn in the side of those who must comply with the law and those who must enforce it.
After the passage of the state’s “assault weapon” laws, Sen. Don Rogers described confusion among law enforcement with the new law in a letter to Governor George Deukmejian re: Sen. Bill No. 2444 (1989-1990 Reg. Sess.) Aug. 23, 1990:
I am writing to request your signature on SB 2444 which would enable law enforcement personnel in the field the means to be able to recognize what actually is or is not an “assault weapon,” as defined under state law. . . . Unfortunately, a great many law enforcement officers who deal directly with the public are not experts in specific firearms identification. . . . There are numerous makes and models of civilian military-looking semi-automatic firearms which are not listed by California as “assault weapons” but which are very similar in external appearance. This situation sets the stage for honest law-enforcement mistakes resulting in unjustified confiscations of non-assault weapon firearms. Such mistakes, although innocently made, could easily result in unnecessary, time-consuming, and costly legal actions both for law enforcement and for the lawful firearms owners affected.
The confusion was not limited to law enforcement alone. In Rash v. Lungren (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 1233, it became clear that Judges were equally confused. Perhaps California Appeals Court Justice William Bedsworth, writing about firearm laws, said it best:
At first blush, the statutes seem impenetrable. Reading them is hard, writing about them arduous, reading about them probably downright painful. The [complexity] makes for tough sledding. As Alfred North Whitehead wrote of rationalism, the effort is, itself, an adventure in the clarification of thought.
Even one of cinema’s greatest action heroes found the state’s plethora of firearm laws confusing. In his 2005 veto message to Senator Jack Scott, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated:
California's laws already impose strict liability on gun owners who allow a child to access their firearm. Ensuring firearms are stored properly is an important public health goal and that is why I support the current criminal storage laws. The additional firearm storage restrictions proposed by SB 1140 are vague and unnecessary to our criminal justice system. Strict liability is the most stringent legal liability theory available and only five other states beside California currently impose such a harsh penalty. SB 1140 would further expand the liability to situations that cannot be easily defined and thereby provides no guidance to a person as to how to avoid criminal penalties. Such ambiguity in the law invites arbitrary enforcement and judicial review. Unfortunately, SB 1140 does more to confuse an already complicated area of the law than to protect children. Before a government exercises its power to take away one's liberty, it should be clear to every person what actions will cause them to forfeit their freedom. Instead of adding to the lengthy and complex area of firearm laws, a reorganization of the current laws should be undertaken to ensure that statutes that impose criminal penalties are easily understandable.
Subsequently, in 2006, the Legislature passed the Assembly Concurrent Resolution, which described the state of the firearm laws:
Many other provisions of the Penal Code are very confusing. In particular, the laws relating to the transfers of firearms are lengthy, with numerous cross-references, highly fact-specific exemptions, and complex provisions. For example, Penal Code Section 12078 is 5,880 words long and occupies 11 pages if printed in a 12-point font with conventional margins. The section has cross-references to many scattered sections of other firearms provisions, some of them hundreds of sections away. The firearms laws occupy over 100 pages of an unannotated version of the Penal Code when printed in dual column in tiny print.
Since then, the Penal Code has been restructured, but the complexity still exists. Even more new laws regulating firearms have been added.
Today, a search of the Official California Legislative Information website of the term “firearm” reveals that there are currently sixty-eight (68) bills pending that address or affect firearms in one way or another for this legislative term alone. Most of these bills have nothing to do with the goal of safety, security, or reducing crime within the State of California.
In fact, they are just the opposite. These bills are designed and intended to harass gun owners (a favorite target for the current ruling class) and to create a new class of crime and criminals out of those individuals who have sought to collect firearms for self-defense, sporting, and other lawful uses. These bills further regulate the who, what, where, when and why of how firearms can be sold, used, possessed, transferred, displayed, and more. They are far reaching; one bill goes so far as to make illegal the possession and sale of one of the most common firearms in America.
Once passed, these bills have a tendency to spread throughout the country like a virus. The proponents of these bills create classes and groups of firearms and firearm owners to mitigate public outrage, e.g. “assault weapons,” “Saturday night specials,” “sniper rifles,” “short barrel rifles,” and “prohibited persons.” With all these laws already on the books and more coming, it is important to know the evolution of California’s gun control movement – beginning with its genesis.
California’s First Gun Control Law
Though it had only been a part of the United States for less than two years, California became the 31st state in the union (without ever even having been a territory) on September 9, 1850. Two years prior, Mexico had ceded California and much of its northern territory to the United States in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Signing the treaty was a decision the Mexican diplomats would soon regret. They pictured California as a region of sleepy mission towns with a tiny population of about 7,300 – not a tragic loss to the Mexican empire. Had they known that gold had been discovered at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California, nine days before they signed the peace treaty, they likely would have kept hold of California.
Beginning in 1849, "forty-niners" began flooding into California, chasing after the gold rumored to be strewn about the ground just waiting to be picked up. California's population and wealth skyrocketed.
Unlike most newly acquired regions of the United States that went through long periods as territories before they had the 60,000 inhabitants needed to achieve statehood, California took the fast track. Prior to the Gold Rush, immigration to California had been so slow that it would have been decades before the population reached that number. With gold seekers pouring in at a torrential pace, more than 60,000 people came to California in 1849 alone. Congress allowed California to jump straight to full statehood without ever passing through the formal territorial stage in the Compromise of 1850.
But relations between settlers and the Native Americans were strained, to say the least. Governor Peter H. Burnett on January 7, 1851, described California’s view of the Native Americans as follows:
That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races, until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected. While we cannot anticipate this result but with painful regret, the inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power or wisdom of man to avert.
With his powers as governor, Peter H. Burnett sought to achieve that goal of exterminating Native Americans using Article VII of the first California Constitution, which gave the governor the power “to call for the militia, to execute the laws of the State, to suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.” MilitaryMuseum.org details his actions:
In his annual address to the California Legislature on January 7, 1851, Governor Burnett highlighted significant events that transpired during 1850, including “repeated calls…upon the Executive for the aid of the militia to resist and punish the attacks of the Indians upon the frontier.” During 1850, Governor Burnett called out the militia two times. The first order was prompted by incidents at the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers on April 23, 1850; in response, the Governor ordered the sheriffs of San Diego and Los Angeles to organize a total of 100 men to “pursue such energetic measures to punish the Indians, bring them to terms, and protect the emigrants on their way to California.” The second instance occurred in October 1850, when Governor Burnett ordered the sheriff of El Dorado County to muster 200 men. The commanders were instructed to “proceed to punish the Indians engaged in the late attacks in the vicinity of Ringgold, and along the emigrant trail leading from Salt Lake to California.”
Thus, with the Native Americans facing “extermination” at the hands of the governor and still being able to defend themselves with firearms and ammunition purchased on the open market, the proverbial crisis that precedes most gun control measures was born. The solution was to create the first California firearm law, which regulated a class of “prohibited persons.”
In 1851, California Representative Alonzo Adams “gave notice that he would, at an early day, ask leave to introduce a bill entitled ‘an Act to prevent the sale, or furnishing Fire-arms and other implements of war to Indians.’” As with most first attempts at new gun control measures, the act was not passed.
Three years later, in 1854, the act was geographically narrowed and picked up by Representative Edward A. Stevenson, who gave notice that “he would at an early day introduce a bill for an Act to prohibit Indians from carrying fire arms or munitions of war in El Dorado county” – a more limited approach than Representative Adams took in 1851. But he too was unsuccessful, because his efforts were too narrow in scope.
Soon after Representative Stevenson introduced his bill, Representative Stephen Girard Whipple introduced Assembly Bill No. 80 (1854), “An Act to prevent the sale of fire arms and ammunition to the Indians in this State.” Note the lack of the bill’s inclusion of “munitions of war” and “implementations of war” that existed in the bill’s predecessors. By this time, there was no need for propaganda and the agenda was clear – “Indians” should not have guns or ammunition.
On March 21, 1854, Assembly Bill 80 was passed, making the sale of firearms and ammunition to “Indians” a misdemeanor. The full text of California’s first statewide gun control law, which became Penal Code section 398, is as follows:
Section 1. any person or persons who shall sell, or give, or in any way dispose of, to any Indian or Indians, of either sex, in this State, any fire-arms or ammunition of any description, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof in any court of competent jurisdiction in this State. [sic] shall be fined in a sum not less than twenty-five dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars, or sentenced to the county jail not less than one month nor more than six months, or both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
Sec. 2. Of all fines so collected one-fourth shall be paid to the person informing, one-fourth shall be paid to the County Treasury for road purposes, and one-half shall be paid into the State Treasury, for Common School purposes.
Sec. 3. This Act to take effect from and after thirty days after its passage.
Penal Code section 398 remained law within the State of California for almost 60 years. On April 22, 1913, the California Legislature approved the repeal of section 398. The repeal became effective August 10, 1913.
Written by civil rights and firearms law attorney Jason Davis for The Calguns Foundation.
CGF, CAL-FFL, Gun Owners Win in South San Francisco; City Withdraws Ammo Ban, Cites Tremendous OppositionAfter considering the letter of opposition sent by The Calguns Foundation and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, the City of South San Francisco prudently rejected an outrageous gun control measure that would have banned hollow point ammunition and subjected gun owners to serious privacy risks. The ordinance was backed by anti-gun San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who is working to have other Bay Area cities to adopt the highly-flawed ordinance that his city did earlier in March.
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We are witnessing a revival among Second Amendment civil rights activists and — importantly — tremendous growth in both the diversity and sheer numbers of new gun owners. Our modern gun rights culture has adopted, rightfully, the American born-and-bred AR-15 self-defense rifle as the de facto symbol of our fundamental civil liberties.
To thank the anti-gun zealots for bringing together millions of law-abiding gun owners like never before in our history, we’re giving away one of our favorite guns – a new Spike’s Tactical AR-15 platform M4LE rifle! Best of all, our giveaway is free to enter – sign up right now for a chance to win!
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This update will provide you a thumbnail sketch of what is happening with key gun legislation in California. For more detailed information, follow the links provided.
AB 48 (Skinner) - Ban on magazine parts; requires ammunition transfers to be conducted by FFL; requires law enforcement reporting for ammunition transactions. Hearing: Assembly Public Safety 4/2/13). Position: OPPOSE.
AB 169 (Dickinson) - Removes the “private party transfer” exemption for non-Rostered handguns and prohibits owners of non-Rostered handguns from selling them to non-exempt persons. Hearing: Assembly Public Safety 4/2/13. Position: OPPOSE.
AB 500 (Ammiano) - Waiting period expansion and new DOJ powers to deny guns to law-abiding people. Hearing: Assembly Public Safety 4/2/13. Position: OPPOSE.
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There’s no other way to say it: anti-gun politicians in Sacramento have declared war on your gun rights.
California Senator Darrell Steinberg and his gun-grabbing posse have introduced dozens of gun control bills aimed at gutting your Second Amendment rights.
FPC - and YOU - are all that stand in their way.
If their gun ban bills pass into law, hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Californians - like YOU - would face criminal liability, forced sale or confiscation of lawfully-owned private property, and be treated like sex offenders, among other horrors - just for exercising your fundamental right to keep and bear arms!
We need your help to oppose their gun ban plans RIGHT NOW! Join the fight at CalGunFight.com!
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SAN CARLOS, CA and MADERA, CA (March 27, 2013) – The Calguns Foundation and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees have sent a formal letter of opposition to the City of South San Francisco on two proposed ordinances that would negatively affect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and retailers.
Proposed ordinance 10.58.020 would require an electronic report be sent to the Chief of Police for every sale of 500 or more rounds of ammunition in a single transaction, creating an electronic database of gun owners that would be subject to public records requests. Proposed ordinance 10.58.010 would prohibit the possession or sale of certain ammunition -- including that commonly possessed for self-defense -- "Black Talon" ammunition, and ammunition "intended exclusively for law enforcement and military purposes."
The pair of gun control measures are being pushed by Mayor Edwin Lee of the neighboring City of San Francisco, who championed identical measures in San Francisco earlier this month.
"San Francisco Mayor Lee is trying to take his wrong-headed and atrocious policies around the Bay Area, starting with the City of South San Francisco," explained Brandon Combs, executive director of The Calguns Foundation. "We're cautiously optimistic that they will be viewed for what they are and rejected by the City Council tonight."
"The proposed ordinances suffer from a number of serious defects, including vagueness and Second Amendment concerns," said attorney Jason Davis, who penned the letter to the City on behalf of CGF and CAL-FFL. "If the proposals are adopted, they would most certainly be the subject of very expensive litigation."
"It says something about the quality of a measure when it names products that haven't been on the market for years as well as repealed sections of the Penal Code," noted Combs. "In Mayor Lee's obsessive rush to trample the Second Amendment and privacy rights of law-abiding people, he left the proverbial barn door open for legal action. Any city that follows in his misguided footsteps will be a soft target for our litigation program."
The CGF/CAL-FFL letter can be viewed at http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/SSF-letter.pdf. The proposed ordinances and the City's Staff Report can be viewed at the Firearms Policy Coalition website at http://www.firearmspolicy.org/the-issues/california/2013-2014/south-san-francisco-ammo-ban.
The Calguns Foundation (calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which serves its members by providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation, and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper or malicious prosecution. The Calguns Foundation seeks to inform government and protect the rights of individuals to acquire, own, and lawfully use firearms in California.
California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (calffl.org) is California’s premier non-profit industry association of, by, and for firearms manufacturers, dealers, collectors, training professionals, shooting ranges, and others, advancing the interests of its members and the general public through strategic litigation, legislative efforts, and education. For more information or to join Cal-FFL, please visit calffl.org.