News

CGF, SAF, CAL-FFL Sue County of Alameda for Violation of Civil Rights

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For Immediate Release: June 26, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The County of Alameda’s zoning law requiring that gun stores be located 500 feet away from residential properties is not rational and cannot withstand any form of constitutional scrutiny, argues a new federal civil rights lawsuit filed yesterday in San Francisco, California.  Businessmen John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga and Gary Gamaza are joined by the Second Amendment Foundation, The Calguns Foundation, and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees as plaintiffs in the case. They are represented by attorneys Donald Kilmer of San Jose and Jason Davis of Rancho Santa Margarita.
The complaint describes how plaintiffs Teixeira, Nobriga, and Gamza had actually been granted a Conditional Use Permit and variance for the property on which they intended to open a gun store until the variance was revoked by the Alameda Board of Supervisors.  “John, Steve, and Gary did everything right. They had their paperwork in order,” said attorney Donald Kilmer.  “Their store was moving forward, things were going great, and then they were blindsided by the County long after putting money, labor, and time into opening their store.  That’s a serious due process problem for the County.”
“The facts in this case are outrageous,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “In the fall of 2010, Gamaza, Nobriga, and Teixeira formed a business partnership with the intention of opening a gun store in Alameda County. When they began the process of getting permits to open their shop, they were advised of a requirement that gun stores not be located within 500 feet of any school, liquor store or residence.
“After carefully measuring distances between the shop’s front door and the front door of the nearest property,” he continued, “they found that they were well beyond the 500-foot limit. But then the county changed the measurement requirements.”
The City of Sunnyvale recently conducted a study that showed gun stores had no correlation with area crime.  “The right to buy firearms is just as much a protected part of the Second Amendment as the right to buy books is protected under the First Amendment,” said Calguns Foundation chairman Gene Hoffman. “Just like we saw in the Nordyke case, Alameda County continues it's long-running effort to undermine the fundamental civil rights of it's citizens to purchase firearms that they have a right to buy.”
According to the lawsuit, the county allowed an objection to the businessmen’s permit to be filed even though the deadline had passed for such objections and the West County Board of Zoning Adjustments had voted to approve a conditional use permit and allow the gun store to operate.  “The outcome of this lawsuit may very well have far-reaching implications for firearms dealers not just in California, but across the United States,” noted co-counsel Jason Davis.  “Hopefully we can address these issues for dealers once and for all.”
“Alameda County has a long track record of denying Second Amendment Rights to its residents, even those enumerated in our Constitution,” explained Cal-FFL president Brandon Combs.  “We’ve seen over and over again how local rules like those Alameda County adopted are sold to municipalities by anti-gun extremist groups like New York Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence, Brady Campaign, and other Joyce Foundation-funded spinoffs.”
“They want to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution, but that’s simply not going to happen on our watch.  We will make sure Americans have a neighborhood gun dealer to sell them the tools they need to defend themselves from violent attackers.”
The case is captioned as Teixeira, et al. v. County of Alameda, et al. The docket and filings as they become available can be viewed at http://ia600408.us.archive.org/19/items/gov.uscourts.cand.256462/gov.uscourts.cand.256462.docket.html.
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The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.  Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.
The Calguns Foundation (www.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 (www.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.
Contacts:
SAF: Alan Gottlieb
425-454-7012 – alangottlieb@saf.org
CGF: Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015 - hoffmang@calgunsfoundation.org
Cal-FFL: Brandon Combs
888-541-3040 - bcombs@calffl.org


Alameda County Runs Away From Nordyke Case, Concedes

San Carlos, CA (June 4, 2012) – In an astonishing eleventh-hour about-face, the County of Alameda’s “sweeping concessions” in open court to allow gun shows at the Alameda County Fairgrounds was accepted by the Ninth Circuit in its opinion for Nordyke v. King, released on Friday.
As was noted in a concurring opinion by Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, the County’s representation at oral arguments that Plaintiffs could, in fact, now hold gun shows at the Fairgrounds, “change the game.”
“While it’s certainly fantastic that the Nordykes are once again able to have gun shows on Alameda County property, it’s clear to us that the County was willing to stop at nothing to dodge the Second Amendment bullet,” explained Calguns Foundation chairman Gene Hoffman.
“The Calguns Foundation is eager to see gun shows – long standing in our history and protected under the Constitution - at suitable public venues across the state of California. We stand ready to ensure that the rights of gun owners to gather and trade in self-defense arms are respected in every locale. California state law already severely regulates gun shows and these additional local requirements are solely an attempt to go beyond regulation into prohibition.”
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The Calguns Foundation (www.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.
Contact:
Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015 hoffmang@calgunsfoundation.org


CGF Defends Innocent Gun Owner from Criminal Charges, Secures $35,800 Settlement in Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit

San Carlos, CA (May 14, 2012) – In an excellent conclusion to another federal civil rights lawsuit, The Calguns Foundation has secured a settlement agreement from defendants the City of Calexico, the Calexico Police Department, Chief of Police James Neujahr, and Calexico PD officer Mario Alcaraz. The case, Ian James Farias v. City of Calexico, et al., alleged that the defendants violated Mr. Farias’ Fourth Amendment rights by improperly arresting him and seizing his lawfully-possessed shotgun. The lawsuit also alleged that the Calexico PD failed to properly train their officers on firearms issues, leading to Mr. Farias’ arrest.
Mr. Farias had been driving through the Imperial County town of Calexico in late January, 2010, when Officer Alcaraz pulled Mr. Farias over for an alleged traffic violation. After receiving consent to search the back seat of the vehicle, Officer Alcaraz observed Mr. Farias’ shotgun – which was being transported unloaded and exposed on the back seat – and arrested Mr. Farias for an alleged violation of Penal Code section 12025 (a statute criminalizing the unlicensed carry of a concealed handgun). Mr. Farias spent 9 hours in the Imperial County Jail before bailing out and contacting The Calguns Foundation to assist in his defense.
With the aid of Foundation attorney Jason Davis of the law firm Davis and Associates, the criminal case against Mr. Farias was eventually rejected by the District Attorney’s Office. Not only did the DA not pursue criminal action against Mr. Farias, but Davis successfully obtained a rare Finding of Factual Innocence for Mr. Farias, which means that “no person of ordinary care and prudence [would] believe or conscientiously entertain any honest and strong suspicion that the person arrested [or acquitted] is guilty.” Mr. Farias then sued in Federal court to seek recovery of damages and mandate proper training, claiming that that the arrest violated his Fourth Amendment rights, among others.
As part of the settlement agreement, the City of Calexico paid Mr. Farias $35,800 and instituted a training program on criminal laws pertaining to firearms. The training bulletin, drafted by Mr. Davis and available for download at this link, and covers topics of search and seizure, loaded firearm laws, unloaded concealed firearm laws, and the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act.  Significantly, the mandated training program also includes training on the recently passed “Open Carry Ban” bill AB144 and the 116 exemptions under which unloaded open carry remains legal.
“The training bulletin is designed to educate the department on California’s complex and convoluted firearm laws,” said Jason Davis. “My client sincerely appreciates the assistance of The Calguns Foundation, which made it possible for us to aggressively pursue the case.”
“This case is a reminder that exercising one’s right to keep and bear arms is not a waiver of their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures,” said CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman. “The more that California and local governments regulate firearms, the more they will have to train their law enforcement officers – or be held accountable in the courts.”
A copy of the complaint and case filings can be downloaded at this link.
Calguns Foundation is able to help defend innocent California gun owners like Mr. Farias because of the generous tax-deductible donations of our supporters. Please support our many Second Amendment lawsuits and programs by contributing at CGF's Donate Page.
Donations may also be mailed to:

The Calguns Foundation
751 Laurel Street Suite 935
San Carlos, CA 94070-3113
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The Calguns Foundation (www.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. 
 


CGF Sues San Francisco, Oakland Police Departments and CA DOJ Over Seized Firearms

San Carlos, CA (May 9, 2012) – In an important step to secure the rights of California gun owners, The Calguns Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation, and two individual residents of California have filed a new federal lawsuit in San Francisco. The case, entitled Churchill, et. al. v. Harris, et al., alleges that the police departments of both San Francisco and Oakland are unlawfully refusing to return lawfully-owned firearms to individuals who have had charges dropped after police investigations proved that they had done nothing wrong.
The ongoing seizure of those firearms is a violation of the Second and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. What’s more, the departments’ refusal to return property after all charges are dropped is theft.
"In California, the Evidence Code makes it clear that simple possession is proof of ownership of almost all types of common property, including firearms," said Don Kilmer, attorney for the plaintiffs. "The California Department of Justice is misleading police departments in such a way that they violate the rights of gun owners who were investigated and found to not have violated the law."
The Oakland and San Francisco Police departments appear to be relying on a Department of Justice document that is being attached to the required “Law Enforcement Gun Release”, or LEGR, reports indicating that the requester may lawfully own and possess firearms. The document claims that the requesting person has to provide proof of ownership for every firearm when they go to retrieve their seized property.
According to longstanding California law, every firearm seized during a police investigation must be inventoried; a copy of that list is given to the person from whom firearms are seized. Every law enforcement agency knows which person they took firearms from and what specific firearms were taken.
"It's hard enough for a law-abiding gun owner to live through the uncertainty and fear caused by a false allegation or arrest, but to have the very people who are trusted and sworn to serve them then steal their property after they've been exonerated is inexcusable," said Calguns Foundation chairman Gene Hoffman. "Law-abiding Californians should not be forced to seek out expensive legal representation just to get back what is rightfully theirs in the first place."
A copy of the complaint and case filings can be downloaded here. The full docket can be viewed at this link.
To support this and other important Second Amendment lawsuits, please make a tax-deductible donation by secure credit card, e-check, or PayPal at CGF's Donate Page.
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The Calguns Foundation (www.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


Calguns Foundation Sues Los Angeles County, Sheriff Lee Baca

San Carlos, CA (March 9, 2012) – Continuing its Carry License Sunshine and Compliance Initiative, The Calguns Foundation (CGF) has filed a lawsuit today in Los Angeles Superior Court against Los Angeles Sheriff Leroy “Lee” Baca, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and Los Angeles County. The case, entitled Jennifer Lu, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al., challenges the Sheriff’s ban on accepting and processing applications for carry licenses submitted by city residents.
The Calguns Foundation is joined in the lawsuit by three individual plaintiffs.
“Sheriff Baca made the unfortunate decision to repeat historical failure,” noted CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman. “Apparently, the Sheriff and County do not feel bound to follow the precedent they set when the California Court of Appeals ruled against them in 1976. We look forward to refreshing their memory.”
In the case of Salute v. Pitchess, the Court held that “[i]t is the duty of the sheriff to make . . . an investigation and determination, on an individual basis, on every application” for a handgun carry license. Then-Los Angeles Sheriff Peter Pitchess had “a fixed policy of not granting applications . . . … except in a limited number of cases.”
California requires that people who desire to carry a handgun for self defense be licensed by the sheriff of the county in which they reside, or, at the applicants’ option, they can apply to their city’s chief of police. However, sheriffs cannot require applicants to first apply to and be denied by a city’s chief of police as a prerequisite to application.
“The State of California very intentionally established a standardized carry license framework: if you’re a sheriff, you have a duty to administer the carry license program for all residents of your county,” clarified Brandon Combs, an officer of CGF and director of the Carry License Initiative. “Sheriff Baca’s intent in enforcing these unlawful regulations is quite clear: make it as difficult as possible for law-abiding residents of Los Angeles County to defend their lives and those of their families. Not only does he treat some deserving applicants differently than others, he uses the rejections by cities’ chiefs of police - that his policy requires - as evidence against the applicants when they apply to him.”
“Jennifer Lu and the other plaintiffs have every reason to desire a handgun carry license, not the least of which is that it is their fundamental right under the Constitution as Federal courts in both West Virginia and Maryland ruled earlier this week,” said Jason Davis, attorney for the plaintiffs. “Sheriff Baca is circumventing state and constitutional law, and we’re confident that this case will bear that out.”
A copy of the complaint and case filings can be downloaded at
The Calguns Foundation (www.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.
Contact:
Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015
hoffmang@calgunsfoundation.org