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Old May 24, 2004, 10:01 PM   #1
pennysaver
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Screwed by California Gun Laws

Heya folks,

I was referred to you by a friend, so here's the situation:

In October 2003, my wife found out that she was pregnant with our first child and decided to pack all of our guns into her car and took them to our local police station (Murrieta, CA), to find out how to legally ship them to her family in Texas. (My wife is blonde by the way). The police were, of course, interested in seeing the guns and dismissed my hunting rifles and pistols, but took issue with the Norinco MAK-90, COLT H-BAR CAR A3 Camp Perry Elite Match rifle, and the Bushmaster XM-15 that I own.

They allowed my wife to return home with all but the MAK-90, which apparently is now illegal to own in California. (A law of which I was not aware). Several police officers came to my house the following day and asked to see the guns again, which were still in my wife’s car. Unable to find the registration records on the weapons during their "investigatory" search, they seized the weapons as “illegal assault weapons” and said that they would have to run a more detailed background check. (We have not been able to find the original paperwork).

I have since been charged with possession of illegal assault weapons, due to an obscure California law that required re-registration of "assault weapons"; another law of which I was painfully unaware. All of the guns were bought legally: the MAK-90 from Fullmer’s True Value Hardware store in Gunnison, Colorado in 1992, the Colt from Turner's in Redondo Beach in 1995, and the Bushmaster from B&B Guns in Long Beach in 1997. I have the registration for the MAK-90, but not the other two, although the District Attorney has since been able to get the original registration information from the ATF, which interestingly enough, shows that the two AR-15’s are registered to my wife (we purchased them on her credit card). I was turned away by the ATF, who is no longer authorized to release weapons information to private citizens, when I tried to get that information. (Turner’s has a storage arrangement with the ATF; B&B is out of business). Please note that neither AR is operational as I have the bolts, which may have some bearing per the following California case, which the NRA is backing:

Daren D. Chaker(Calif). Police seized Mr. Chaker's FN .308 rifle. It was inoperable, by virtue of the fact that it was missing the bolt and firing pin. Police did not find the missing items, in close proximity to the rifle or anywhere else. Nevertheless, they charged Mr. Chaker with possession of an assault weapon. His argument is that his rifle was permanently inoperable under California law, and thus lawful to possess.

I am trying to do anything I can to rally support for my case, 1) to fight these ridiculous laws, 2) have these charges dropped and 3) to get my guns returned. To date, this fiasco has cost me $10,000, which I had to borrow; to take the case to trial, which my lawyer believes is a very winnable case, will cost $5,000 more.

As for a bit of background, I have a degree in Ranch Management from Texas Christian University and have worked for Harte-Hanks, a multi-national communications corporation, for almost eleven years. My current role is as a Senior Financial Analyst/Sales Automation Developer. I began shooting with my father and Lowell Thomas when I was five; shot Army & Distinguished Expert when I was ten; shot on my high school Skeet & Trap team and on TCU’s Rifle & Pistol team. I am by no means a criminal or undesirable member of society.

Any assistance or guidance which you can offer in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Please feel free to contact me anytime.

Thanks,

Chris "Smitty" Smith
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Old May 24, 2004, 10:17 PM   #2
Bud Helms
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Smitty, Welcome to TFL. I am not knowledgeable on the peculiarities of PRK gunlaws, but you'll get a lot of response on this. Good luck, friend.
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Old May 24, 2004, 11:08 PM   #3
2002gti
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as far as i know california did a one time registration for all assault weapons. if you missed the registration window your out of luck. if the weapons are registered you can take them to the range or anywhere. if unregistered they'll be taken away if discovered like what happened to you. i gave in and registered my mak90 and ar15 although no one has ever asked me about it at the range. they have you/us over a barrel.
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Old May 24, 2004, 11:22 PM   #4
2002gti
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actually i work with a guy that had 2 ar's taken away and couldnt do anything. i think fighting it may just cost you more money.
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Old May 25, 2004, 02:35 AM   #5
Samuel2001
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Sorry to hear about your troubles, However you mightwant to look-up an attorney by the name of Bruce Colodney here in So. Ca. Unfortunately I do not have his info on hand. But our So. Ca. buds here at TFL might be able to help locate that info. This particular attorney specialises in firearm laws, and is pretty good from what I hear.

Good luck!
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Old May 25, 2004, 02:51 AM   #6
Samuel2001
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Found web address!

Hey Bud,
I found an E-mail address to the attorney I was talking about it's:
www.gunlaw.com
He's got two locations in Orange and San Bernardino.

Hope this is of help to you!
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Old May 25, 2004, 11:34 AM   #7
Oldphart
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Screwed by California Gun Laws

Your wife did WHAT??

I hate to sound pessimistic, but you'll probably be better off financially (and other ways too) if you give up now, move out of California and get another wife. If you can't do all of those things, then settle for the new wife.
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Old May 25, 2004, 02:24 PM   #8
mvpel
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Call Don Kilmer post-haste. He deals with situations like this all the time. His number is 408-998-8489, and his e-mail is LexArma@aol.com

Hopefully your wife has learned to let her fingers do the walking. Police aren't your friends, these days.
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Old May 25, 2004, 03:01 PM   #9
redhead
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I can vouch for Don Kilmer. He represented us in a relatively minor (as it turned out) gun-related matter having to do with federal law (thank you, ATF). He knows what he's doing.
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Old May 25, 2004, 03:27 PM   #10
Mac Attack
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Quote:
Chris wrote:
As for a bit of background, I have a degree in Ranch Management from Texas Christian University and have worked for Harte-Hanks, a multi-national communications corporation, for almost eleven years. My current role is as a Senior Financial Analyst/Sales Automation Developer. I began shooting with my father and Lowell Thomas when I was five; shot Army & Distinguished Expert when I was ten; shot on my high school Skeet & Trap team and on TCU’s Rifle & Pistol team. I am by no means a criminal or undesirable member of society.
Then you moved to California and your gun rights were taken away!

Man that sucks. California laws are so screwed up and this is just another fine example. Yet another reason why I am happy that I left CA for GA in 2003. As a suggestion have you tried speaking with your Congressman to see what he/she could do? When my wife had problems dealing with another Government agency she called our local Congressman Dana Ronabocher (sp?) in Huntington Beach, CA and he helped us out tremendously. It's worth a phone call - you never will know unless you try.

Mark
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Old May 26, 2004, 01:02 PM   #11
jnojr
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I'm curious as to what grounds your attorney gives for this being a "very winnable" case. I don't see how he could win without getting SB23 / Roberti-Roos tossed as unconstitutional, and that's already been tried. Both of you would be heroes if you did manage to pull it off.
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Old May 26, 2004, 05:31 PM   #12
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As I recall, the cutoff date for registration of so-called "assault weapons" in CA was January 2000. Those of us who owned one or another of the described weapons prior to that date were required to perform one of the following: 1) register them with DOJ via a published process which included filling out a form, submitting a thumb print, and sending it off to the state govt.; 2) rendering the weapon(s) inoperable in a substantive way so they could not be fired again; 3) altering the weapon in such a way as to make it no longer an "assault weapon" as described; or 4) selling the weapon(s) out of state. Subsequent to the registration deadline, anyone found in possession of an unregistered designated weapon would be guilty of a felony in CA resulting in loss of all gun owning rights and confiscation of not only the offending piece but any other guns as well (since one could no longer legally own ANY gun). The guilty party might be given a grace period to sell off the other guns, but might not be allowed personal possession of them during that time.

Many gun owners in CA were UNAWARE of the draconian nature of this outrageous, unconstitutional legislation and many remain so. Out of state folks arriving in CA for the first time who happen to be gun owners are quite likely TOTALLY UNAWARE of the situation. The reason we don't hear more about folks being caught up in this ugly matter is that enforcement is not a priority. It usually follows an incident such as described above where the victim, in this case, an unsuspecting new resident is discovered to be in violation virtually by accident. Then the hammer falls.

My advice is to get the best representation you can afford. Colodny and others (Chuck Michaels) can do a great job for you. Call the California Rifle and Pistol Association in Fullerton for referral. Keep your chin up and don't blame your wife. She thought she was helping. And maybe in another state she would be.

Socialist societal and cultural engineering at work for your benefit. My, my CA is in DEEP doo doo!
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Old May 26, 2004, 05:49 PM   #13
atek3
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The short answer, you are screwed, see if you can get off with only your guns stolen and being sentenced for an infraction. And seriously, make sure the wife reinburses you for every dime you waste on your legal defense. If you are the bread winner, she gets no new shoes for two years or however long you spend in jail, which ever is greater.

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Old May 26, 2004, 07:30 PM   #14
moredes
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From jnojor:

Quote:
I'm curious as to what grounds your attorney gives for this being a "very winnable" case. I don't see how he could win without getting SB23 / Roberti-Roos tossed as unconstitutional, and that's already been tried. Both of you would be heroes if you did manage to pull it off.
Balls on. The lawyer's being a lawyer, all eyes on the fee.

Read the law how you might, the intent is clear, and the judiciary will interpret it their way--the intent is to limit those weapons in PRK to one generation's (your) lifetime. They cannot be gifted, transferred, sold, inherited, or imported/exported out of the state by a private party after the Jan2000 deadline. You may not own/possess/hold/store them legally in PRK unless they were registered by you before the deadline. (this ruling is so severe, that if you leave the state with your guns and declare residency someplace else, you may not bring them back [except, I think, for competition; as I recall there are several 'legal' hoops you must jump through for this exception]). The courts have upheld (in countless examples) that your federal Constitutional rights have not been infringed upon by (this) state law.

If you (or your wife) make/made an ignorant (or intentional) mistake and violated the rules to maintain your guns legally, they'll take the opportunity to confiscate them from you. Either your lawyer is dreaming, or he's riding you for all you're worth. At best, I'd follow the advice of the others here and procure the services of a gunlaw.com attorney, or the like.

Why isn't she the one facing charges for the other two rifles (AR-15s) if they're in her name? and why were the guns "stored" in the car overnight?? She must be a natural blonde.
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Old January 11, 2008, 12:33 PM   #15
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This thread came up in a search I was doing. Any updates?
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Old January 11, 2008, 02:31 PM   #16
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pennysaver never posted again.
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Old January 11, 2008, 04:54 PM   #17
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Quote:
pennysaver never posted again.
Weird.
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Old January 12, 2008, 06:15 AM   #18
sw_florida
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Is California turning into a leftwing madness because of the influence of all the Latinos coming in, or what is the drive behind? I have never been to California. A couple of decades ago, California seemed to be the front runner on personal freedom. But that changed.
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