California: Gun registry, gun grabs

California: Gun registry, gun grabs

[Ed. – Emphasis, um, added.]

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Bakersfield man was stunned when state agents showed up at his home and took all his guns.

Eighteen weapons were seized but then returned a couple weeks later. Eyewitness News discovered it was the work of a special state task force.  The weapons were returned to Michael Merritt, but he’s left with plenty of questions. …

The gun owner said the officers showed him a print-out of the charge. It lists the offense under a code of 11910, from a Los Angeles community.  Merritt said he remembers the incident from more than 40 years ago, and he doesn’t think the charge is on the books now.

“Doesn’t exist anymore,” Merritt argued. “I mean, it’s a ticket now days.”

Eyewitness News checked the penal code, and 11910 doesn’t show up.

Merritt also disputed whether the charge was ever a felony. …

The agents were with a special state unit tasked with checking the lists of registered gun owners against databases showing people who are not allowed to have weapons. It was set up under a 2001 law, Senate Bill 950, which created the Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS).

“APPS cross-references five databases to find people who legally purchased handguns and registered assault weapons since 1996 with those prohibited from owning or possessing firearms,” reads a fact sheet from the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris. …

As for how Merritt was able to buy and register a gun, but then turn up on the APPS list as a felon, the agent who responded to Eyewitness News said the database used for the background check was updated on the status of his 1970 case, but the one cross-checked by the APPS unit wasn’t.

The APPS unit was given additional funds last year, after the passage of SB 140. That authorized the use of $24 million from the Dealers’ Record of Sale Special Account, and the AG’s statement said that would allow for hiring 36 additional agents for the task force.

“Over the last two years, DOJ agents have investigated nearly 4,000 people and seized nearly 4,000 weapons, including nearly 2,000 handguns and more than 300 assault weapons,” reads the AG statement. The Bureau of Firearms assistant chief says in 2013, the unit did 3,885 investigations and seized 2,714 weapons.

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