Press Releases

For media inquiries, please contact media@cagunrights.org or (800) 556-2109.

Calguns Foundation Demands San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey Follow Laws, Constitution Himself

San Carlos, CA (June 2, 2011)  - As part of its ongoing Carry License Compliance and Sunshine Initiative, The Calguns Foundation sent San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey a letter demanding that he immediately bring his firearm carry license application acceptance, processing, and evaluation policies into compliance with the law.
In the letter sent Tuesday, Calguns notes that the Sheriff has failed to comply with state law for nearly thirteen years, even after being notified of the deficiency on a number of prior occasions. Calguns also claims that the policies of the Sheriff in issuing licenses to some, including one of his employees, while refusing to accept all applications from “regular” San Francisco residents violates applicants’ constitutional rights of self-defense and equal protection under the law.
“While the Sheriff may have grown accustomed to following only those laws he chooses, we intend to hold the County’s highest law enforcement officer to the same laws he took an oath to uphold,” notes Gene Hoffman, Chairman of The Calguns Foundation. “The rights of San Francisco residents are no less valuable than those of his employees and friends.”
In 1998, then-Assemblymember Rod Wright authored a bill to make firearm carry permit applications consistent across the state due to tremendous variations in local practices by licensing authorities. That bill, AB 2022, established a mandate that all licensing authorities create and publish a written policy on carry license applications by April 1, 1999. It also instituted a specific process that licensing authorities - county sheriffs and city chiefs of police - must use in receiving and processing applications.
“We’ve spent thousands of hours requesting and reviewing the policies and practices of hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the state. Sheriff Hennessey’s, obviously, stood out – it simply didn’t exist,” said Brandon Combs, member of the Board of Directors of Calguns Foundation. “It’s exceedingly frustrating to see the Sheriff turning away so many qualified San Francisco residents who are complying with the law.”
In an effort to avoid litigation, Calguns provided Sheriff Hennessey with a comprehensive model carry license policy. “We would strongly prefer that the Sheriff simply choose to use our model policy, much as San Francisco has done with LCAV policies in the past,” Brandon Combs said. “However, should he choose to go another direction, we’re prepared to litigate as necessary to bring his policies and practices in line with the law.”
A downloadable copy of the model policy is available at this link. CGF's letter to Sheriff Hennessey is located here.
___
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


Los Angeles County DA's Office Dismisses False Charges Against “Open Carrier” Who Exercised His Right to Remain Silent

Mission Viejo, CA (May 10, 2011) – The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop all charges against “open carrier” Ryan Burbridge and is currently considering whether it will oppose a petition for a finding of factual innocence to clear Burbridge’s record. This dismissal comes in the wake of California Assembly Bill 144, which is currently pending and would ban the practice of “open carrying” in California, leaving whether or not individuals can carry firearm in any way for self-defense to discretionary permits issued by law enforcement. Jason Davis and The Calguns Foundation defended Mr. Burbridge.
On March 24, 2011, Burbridge was charged with interfering and delaying an investigation for in incident relating to “open carry” activities. in January, 2011, Mr. Burbridge was lawfully carrying a firearm openly and unloaded in a holster at the Los Cerritos mall. Burbridge was approached by Los Angeles County Sheriffs, who sought to determine whether the firearm was unloaded. They approached Mr. Burbirdge in a secluded hallway away from the view of any witnesses.
“My client questioned the officer’s choice of not permitting his wife or anyone to witness the check of his firearm due to previous harassment by other law enforcement performing similar checks,” said Burbridge’s attorney, Jason Davis of Davis and Associates. “When the officers prolonged the firearm inspection, Burbridge requested that the officers check the firearm, which they did.”
Once the firearm was determined to be unloaded there was no longer any authority for continued detainment, Davis stated. “When the officers requested my client’s identification, Burbridge informed the sheriff deputy that he was exercising his right to remain silent, clarified that detention was over, and walked away with his family.” The entire incident lasted less than four minutes. After the incident, the deputy obtained Burbridge’s license plate number from his vehicle in the mall parking lot to identify Burbridge. Charges were subsequently filed against Burbridge for failing to identify himself and delaying a police investigation. “In other words,” said Davis, “my client was charged for exercising his Constitutional rights.”
Burbridge’s lawyers obtained the support of The Calguns Foundation and opened discussions with the District Attorney’s office in an effort to avoid an unlawful prosecution. “Though the Calguns Foundation encourages individuals to not open carry in urban areas due to law enforcement confusion on the topic, it defends those who are falsely prosecuted for exercising their rights,” said Calguns Foundation Chairman, Gene Hoffman. “Unfortunately, it is this confusion that will likely lead to the passage of Assembly Bill 144. Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police have the ability to exercise their discretion to issue carry permits in a way that complies with the Bill of Rights. Sacramento County, as well as many other jurisdictions in California, show their respect for civil rights by granting carry permits to all law-abiding applicants. Jurisdictions, like Los Angeles County, who consider the Bill of Rights optional, bring upon themselves additional police work and create dangerous situations for their officers by denying people like Mr. Burbridge the right to carry a firearm subject to background checks and training.”
“This incident really opened my eyes to what The Calguns Foundation is doing to support our rights and how easily law enforcement confusion can turn our lives upside down with the stress and turmoil of being falsely prosecuted,” said Burbridge. “Without the involvement of the Calguns community and my lawyers Jason Davis and Jason Shyres, I do not think that I would have had the same result.”
The Calguns Foundation (·www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving its members through providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper prosecution. The Calguns Foundation works to educate government and protect the rights of individuals to acquire, own and lawfully use firearms in California.
Contact:
Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015
gene.hoffman@calgunsfoundation.org


Tom Scocca, CGF, Madison file lawsuit against Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith over Carry Licensing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2011
SAN JOSE, CA – Tom Scocca, The Calguns Foundation, and The Madison Society have filed a lawsuit seeking to compel Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith to respect the equal protection rights of carry license applicants and conform her carry license policies to state law.
Tom Scocca is a Director of Security Risk Management at a large Silicon Valley semiconductor business. Mr. Scocca has "good cause" that is directly comparable to many of the 70 applicants who have successfully received carry permits in Santa Clara County. Further, Mr. Scocca experienced first hand the effect of unlawful policies that members of Calguns Foundation and The Madison Society experience when attempting to apply for a carry permit from Sheriff Smith.
Tom Scocca faces real threats in performing his job. His work requires him to investigate intellectual property compromise and the theft of valuable company property. Though he is licensed by the state of California to openly carry a firearm, he needs to be able to investigate without raising suspicion. “I've been in law enforcement in the past and am trusted by California to carry a loaded firearm,” Scocca said. “However, even though my good cause is equal to or more worthy than many other applicants who have had their licenses issued, Sheriff Smith arbitrarily denied my application.”
Attorney Don Kilmer, representing the plaintiffs in this case, said, “It’s a shame that Sheriff Smith doesn't take the Constitution seriously. This case really isn't about guns, it is about treating citizens fairly and equally while following California Law.”
“Sheriff Smith has to implement a carry license application process that follows California law and treats similarly situated applicants equally,” said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of The Calguns Foundation. “It is especially troubling that a Sheriff would operate a license process in ignorance of state law and binding court precedent.”
The Calguns Foundation ( www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving its members through providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper prosecution. The Calguns Foundation works to educate government andprotect the rights of individuals to acquire, own and lawfully use firearms in California.
The Madison Society (www.madison-society.org) promotes and preserves the Constitution of the United states through education and litigation. The Madison Society specifically focuses it's litigation efforts challenging laws, ordinances, regulations, and any other restrictions and infringements on the right of citizens to "keep and bear arms."
A copy of the complaint is available at http://www.archive.org/download/gov.uscourts.cand.238467/gov.uscourts.cand.238467.1.0.pdf.
Mr. Scocca, CGF, Madison, and Don Kilmer would like to thank Preston Guillory for his assistance in developing this case.
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 Forces Solano County to Reduce Illegal Concealed-Carry License Fees

CGF “Sunshine Initiative” Continues to Improve License Issuance
San Carlos, CA (November 17, 2010) – The Calguns Foundation announced today that, as part of its Carry License Compliance and Sunshine Initiative, Solano County has recently agreed to modify their concealed weapon licensing fee schedule to bring it into compliance with California law.
As part of this initiative – accompanied by its carry license web portal – The Calguns Foundation has been obtaining and analyzing county information regarding license issuance statistics, policies, and processing. Upon review of Solano County’s fees, it was apparent that the County’s fee ordinance conflicted with California law. “The law is crystal clear as to what requirements sheriffs may impose upon applicants,” said Calguns Foundation board member Brandon Combs, adding, “Yet we find many California counties have numerous policy violations.”
California law permits concealed carry permit applicants to be charged up to $100 (with a maximum of $20 due prior to acceptance of applicants’ “good cause” statements); renewal applicants can be charged up to $25. Solano County’s policy, however, called for initial fees of $229 and renewal fees of $152. As such, these policies required applicants to be overcharged by $209 if their license application was denied, and overcharged by $129 if their application was approved. Renewal applicants were overcharged $127.
On October 4, 2010, CGF’s attorney, Jason Davis of Davis & Associates, submitted a pre-litigation demand letter to the Solano County Sheriff, Gary R. Stanton. This letter detailed the illegalities of Solano County's current fee structure. Upon examination of their policy and at the urging of CGF, Solano County agreed to change their fees to reflect the California statutory scheme for carry licensing.
“Solano set an example of how other counties can spare their taxpayers from needless litigation – they did the right thing once the defective policy was brought to their attention,” said Calguns Foundation's Chairman, Gene Hoffman. “Solano gets it, but we anticipate that many counties will not. It is our goal to address every one of these violations throughout California until all counties are 100% compliant in their written and actual policies.”
For those wishing to apply for a CCW permit, The Calguns Foundation maintains an informational portal to assist applicants in all 58 California counties as part of its recently announced Carry Licensing Compliance and Sunshine Initiative. The information portal is available at www.calgunsfoundation.org/carry
The Calguns Foundation ( www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving its members through providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper prosecution. The Calguns Foundation works to educate government andprotect the rights of individuals to acquire, own and lawfully use firearms in California.
Contact:
Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015
hoffmang@calgunsfoundation.org


Second Amendment Rights Are Reaffirmed After Sacramento County Sheriff's Office Changes Carry License Policies

Case Continues Against Yolo County to Secure Right to Self-Defense
Bellevue, WA and San Carlos, CA (October 25, 2010) - The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Calguns Foundation have dismissed their case against Sacramento County, California and its Sheriff, John McGinness, after the Sheriff modified his handgun carry permitting policy. Law-abiding Sacramento County residents may now successfully apply for permits to carry handguns by asserting self-defense as a basis for carry permit issuance. A one-year residency requirement has been eliminated, as has policy language that tied self-defense to arbitrary geographic factors.
While Sacramento County has changed its policies, other counties still fail to recognize that self-defense is a legally sufficient reason for issuance of a handgun carry permit. The litigation will continue against Yolo County and its Sheriff, Ed Prieto, on behalf of SAF, Calguns, and Davis resident Adam Richards. Additionally, this past March, Calguns supporter Brett Stewart unsuccessfully asserted self-defense as a basis for seeking a carrying license from Sheriff Prieto . The Sheriff’s written policy states that “self protection and protection of family (without credible threats of violence)” are insufficient reasons to exercise Second Amendment rights. Mr. Stewart will seek to join the litigation as a plaintiff in this case, now styled Richards v. Prieto.
“We are very happy to have been able to work with Sheriff McGinness to assist Sacramento County in revising their policies and practices,” said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of the Calguns Foundation. “Over the past year, more than 30 of our law abiding members and supporters have received licenses to carry firearms with ‘good cause’ statements that are simple variations of self-defense. Even though the Sheriff is retiring at the end of the year, both candidates to replace Sheriff McGinness have publicly stated their support for Second Amendment rights and that they consider self-defense a compelling reason for issuance of gun carry permit.”
“The Second Amendment Foundation will continue working with the Calguns Foundation and keep funding attorney Alan Gura’s lawsuits in California until everyone’s firearms civil rights are fully protected,” added SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “Together, we will see many more legal victories.”
For those who wish to apply for a CCW permit, the Calguns Foundation maintains an informational portal to assist applicants in all 58 California counties as part of its recently announced Carry Licensing Compliance and Sunshine Initiative. The Sacramento County page has details on the actual procedure and successful good cause statements and is available at http://bit.ly/CGFSacCarry
___
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 works to educate government and protect the rights of individuals to acquire, own, and lawfully use firearms in California.
Contact:Matt Ross
Matt Ross and Associates
(916) 503-2230 office
(916) 206-9818 cell
rossandassociates@comcast.net
Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015
hoffmang@calgunsfoundation.org


Calguns Foundation Announces Firearms Carry Licensing Compliance and Education Program, Files Lawsuit Against Ventura County Sheriff for Failure to Disclose Public Records

San Carlos, CA (October 18, 2010) - As part of a sweeping campaign to make firearm carry accessible to all law abiding Californians, The Calguns Foundation has announced the launch of its new carry license web portal and Carry License/CCW Compliance and Sunshine Initiative, intended to make carry-related information available to the public at one convenient location and bring local governments into compliance with state law. Included in this initiative is the launch of a new CCW flow chart and application process guide for applicants and sheriff’s departments. The new portal can be found at http://calgunsfoundation.org/carry.
"Detailed information about carry licensing, or CCW (Carry a Concealed Weapon), has historically been kept out of reach by the local authorities who issue carry permits," notes Calguns Foundation Director Brandon Combs. "Many Sheriffs don't want citizens to see to the current reality of the right to bear arms in their county. It's time that we hold these officials accountable." As part of the initiative, Calguns Foundation and its network of volunteers requested from each of California's 58 sheriffs carry license-related documents such as their policy, local forms, and application instructions as well as statements of “good cause” that lead to both granted permits and denials. "After reviewing a small sample of the records, we knew we had to make a real effort to clean up policies that violate state or Federal law across the state."
Visitors to the website will now be able to view county-specific pages that include contact information for their sheriff's office, an editable California Department of Justice standard CCW application form, and all carry license-related local materials. The pages will also incorporate a narrative of each county's progress in affecting policy compliance as well as a link to county-specific discussion threads at Calguns.net. In coming days, copies of each county's accepted "good cause” statements (redacted for applicant privacy) will be available for public inspection. Many applicants will find that their “good cause” has already been accepted by their sheriff.
Firearms owners may now sponsor carry policy reform in counties of their choice by making fully tax-deductible contributions at the new Calguns Foundation online store. With each sponsorship, the donor will show their commitment to carry rights by having their name placed prominently in the "Supporters" section of each sponsored county page. County sponsorship will also be available to vendors for an additional donation.
Having found legal violations in nearly every county's policies and practices related to carry license issuance, The Calguns Foundation will be contacting each to request formal changes in order to bring them into compliance with applicable law and avoid costly litigation. "The California Legislature created uniform licensing procedures for sheriffs to keep carry licensing consistent across the State. Unfortunately, it's become quite the opposite with even firearms friendly sheriffs imposing illegal policies on the issuance of licenses," said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of the Calguns Foundation.
To develop this site, Calguns Foundation requested copies of all CCW applications and their outcomes since January 1, 2007, from the 58 sheriffs. "We want the public to know how each California sheriff determines 'Good Cause' and 'Good Moral Character,’' their only areas of discretion under existing law. There is a substantial public interest in this information since the right to bear arms hinges squarely on these standards, which currently vary from county to county," said Gene Hoffman. “We believe that after the McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court case, the Second Amendment right to bear arms requires that “good cause” be interpreted as ‘self defense’ and ‘good moral character’ be interpreted as ‘not prohibited from possessing firearms.’ We have already filed a federal lawsuit entitled Sykes v. McGinness challenging the constitutionality of unfettered discretion in carry licensing in Sacramento and Yolo County.”
Calguns Foundation v. Ventura County
Some local authorities are attempting to stall the initiative. In response to a request made in July, Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks chose to withhold public records despite a 1986 California Supreme Court case (CBS, Inc. v. Block), which held that such records are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act. After several attempts to persuade the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office to follow long-established California law and make their records available for the public, Calguns Foundation was forced to file a lawsuit last Friday in Ventura County Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks a court order to compel Ventura's full compliance with the Public Records Act.
"I am not sure what they are hiding, but Ventura's suppression of records previously held by the courts to be public should concern all those who expect accountability from public officials," said Mr. Jason Davis, who brought the case on The Calguns Foundation’s behalf. "This is the first in a potential string of lawsuits to be filed against local agencies should they continue to disregard the public's interest in their carry licensing programs. Not only does the Act require these authorities to release the information, the very application Sheriff Brooks refused to produce reminds applicants that the applications are public records which could be disclosed upon request. It makes no sense for counties to fight losing battles in these tough economic times."
For more information on this and other Second Amendment issues, please visit www.calgunsfoundation.org.
The Calguns Foundation 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 works to educate 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


San Diego Pays $35,000, Agrees to Finding of Factual Innocence for Improper “Unloaded Open Carry” Arrest

San Carlos CA (September 29, 2010) - The City of San Diego will pay $35,000 to gun rights activist Samuel Wolanyk for his improper arrest. The San Diego Police Department also granted Mr. Wolanyk’s petition for a Finding of Factual Innocence, admitting no reasonable cause for his arrest existed.
The lawsuit – financially supported by The Calguns Foundation, Inc., and brought by attorney Jason Davis of Davis & Associates – sought to ensure San Diego properly trains its officers to deal with law-abiding gun owners.
“We do not encourage Unloaded Open Carrying of firearms in urban areas at this time,” said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of The Calguns Foundation. “But we believe the civil rights of gun owners must be defended to the utmost.”
Nearly two years ago, “open carry” activist Wolanyk wound up looking down the barrels of two police handguns when San Diego Police officers Jody Kinsley and Troy White responded to a call of a man wearing a kilt, with a holstered gun, in San Diego’s Mission Beach area. The officers immediately exited their vehicles on arrival at the location, drew their firearms, and ordered Mr. Wolanyk to the ground.
The officers quickly determined the firearm was unloaded, had no magazine in it, with no round in the chamber, and was thus in full compliance with California law. The firearm was unloaded even though Mr. Wolanyk did separately possess loaded magazines carried in an additional pouch attached to his belt (a completely lawful activity).
Until that day, these officers had never heard of the burgeoning Unloaded Open Carry movement, in which persons entitled to possess firearms exercise their right to lawfully carry unloaded, holstered handguns (though some onerous geographic limitations do apply). One other key legal restriction on open carry in California law also exists: people must give up their Fourth Amendment rights and submit to law enforcement examination of the firearm to determine if it’s loaded. In Wolanyk’s case, however, the officers weren’t performing a loaded firearm examination; in the officers’ minds, they were responding to a “man with a gun” call and acting accordingly.
After San Diego Police Sergeant David Kries arrived at the scene, Mr. Wolanyk had hoped the officers’ errors would be competently rectified and he would then be free to go. But Sgt. Kries showed he too didn’t understand California’s complex gun laws, and arrested Mr. Wolanyk for carrying a “loaded” firearm – in direct conflict with both prior case law (People v. Clark) and common sense, which requires ammunition to be in a position from which it can be fired in order for a firearm to be considered loaded. Mr. Wolanyk was taken to San Diego Police headquarters, where it was determined that he violated no law. Two hours later, Wolanyk was back at Mission Beach with Officer Kinsley handing him back his firearm and ammunition. Neither an apology nor an explanation of why the Department hadn’t properly trained their officers was provided.
“If they’d just apologized and said that they would look into training their officers on how to deal with law-abiding gun owners, I would not have felt compelled to file my lawsuit,” said Mr. Wolanyk. “It’s really about public safety for everyone, including those lawfully carrying firearms.”
Now, not only has San Diego paid Mr. Wolanyk for their actions, but they have since supplemented their training as well.
The rise of the Unloaded Open Carry movement in San Diego and Wolanyk’s arrest caught the attention of California Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, whose proposed “fix” to police training deficiencies was instead to draft a bill taking away the ability to “UOC”. Saldaña’s proposed “Open Carry” ban failed passage this legislative term, but is nearly certain to reemerge this next term.
As long as Unloaded Open Carry activities are lawful, San Diego Police Officers and other law enforcement agencies will have to respect the civil rights of these law-abiding citizens.
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.


The Calguns Foundation Announces Successful Defense of John Contos of Sacramento-Based Sonoma Firearms

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2008


Case based on the incorrect theory that U-15 Stocks are “thumbhole” stocks (and/or constitute a pistol grip) is dismissed. Improper prosecution brought by California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms as retribution and regulatory over-reach.
REDWOOD CITY, CA - The Calguns Foundation (CGF) announces that it has again successfully defended an innocent person charged with violating California’s complex and overbearing firearms laws. The Solano County District Attorney’s office dismissed all charges in an Assault Weapon-related case in People v. Contos. John Contos, the proprietor of Sonoma Firearms, was charged based upon the theory that the California Rifles’ brand “U-15” stock constituted a thumbhole stock (or was in fact a pistol grip) - and was thus a feature triggering Assault Weapon status under California law.


Background: In June 2007, Mr. Contos was contacted by Supervisory Special Agent Ignatius Chinn of the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms in relation to sales of off-list lower receivers for California-legal rifles. According to California law, the serialized “lower receivers” of rifles or pistols that might be considered “Assault Weapons” – and which are not specified by make and model – cannot be considered “Assault Weapons” unless they are specifically listed in California “Assault Weapons” law by make and model. Receivers not listed by make and model are known as “off-list”, and are perfectly legal to sell and possess. However, even though these receivers are perfectly legal, it is still possible to create an illegal assault weapon by putting the wrong “accessories” on one of these receivers. One such prohibited accessory is the “thumbhole stock.”


At the Solano County Gun Show in July 2007, Agent Chinn observed that Mr. Contos was selling off-list lower receivers configured with U-15 “butt stocks.” Agent Chinn claimed such stocks were “thumbhole stocks” that could make these receivers into “Assault Weapons” by having prohibited feature configurations. As there is actually no “hole” in a U-15 stock, this position was at best specious. Later that summer, Agent Chinn obtained and served a warrant based on the “thumbhole stock” theory and seized numerous firearms - including firearms that have no relationship to this dispute.


The Case: The Calguns Foundation retained the Law Offices of Don Kilmer to defend Mr. Contos. After many months passed and no prosecution was forthcoming, Mr. Kilmer began the process of demanding the return of Mr. Contos’ property. After being stonewalled by the Bureau of Firearms, Mr. Kilmer filed a Tort Claims Act claim for the return of all property as well as compensation for business interruption. As the window for a response to the Tort Claims Act claim was to expire in June 2008, the Bureau of Firearms persuaded a Solano County District Attorney to bring criminal charges claiming that Mr. Contos was guilty of offering to sell illegal Assault Weapons.


After reviewing the proposed testimony of the State’s expert (Agent Chinn) the Solano County DA had the courage to admit that he could not meet the burden of proving that a U-15-equipped rifle or receiver was an Assault Weapon. With the case’s dismissal, Mr. Contos looks forward to the prompt return of his property. The Foundation was prepared, if necessary, to secure expert testimony from topologists (mathematicians specializing in the fields of surfaces and shapes) relating to the design of the U-15 stock and its not possessing a “thumbhole”.


The Calguns Foundation remains concerned the Bureau of Firearms has shown a pattern of using the criminal courts to extract retribution against adversaries and quash dissent about their overbroad view of the law. Bureau of Firearms has - on multiple occasions - instigated criminal charges as it became clear that they would be required to return property by civil action. Additionally, the Bureau of Firearms continues to attempt to use the criminal courts to expand the regulatory reach of the Assault Weapon laws. This is contrary to California law. This pattern and practice of charging citizens with a crimes for the purpose of exploring the regulatory boundaries of a fundamental right are extremely troubling and may require redress.
CGF offers its congratulations and thanks to John Contos for his support and patience during this arduous process. Mr. Contos has been a strong personal supporter of the Calguns community, even as this process has exacted real costs from him. Thanks also to The Law Offices of Don Kilmer for their excellent work on this case to date.


Also, CGF offers its congratulations to Grant Early, inventor of the California Rifles U-15 stock, upon having it clearly deemed to be neither a thumbhole stock nor a pistol grip.


Please consider a donation to offset the legal fees and other costs that The Calguns Foundation has and continues to bear in this case and other cases. Your donations are likely to be tax deductible, as The Calguns Foundation expects to obtain 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status. You can donate at http://calgunsfoundation.org/donate via check, credit card, homebanking payments, and Paypal.


The Calguns Foundation expects to see this case through to a final and satisfactory conclusion for both Mr. Contos and the California sport shooting community.


Contact:
Gene Hoffman
Chairman, The Calguns Foundation