Brickbat: Off the Books

Agents from a special California state task force showed up at Michael Merritt's Bakersfield home one night demanding all the guns he and his wife had. They insisted he could not have firearms because he had pleaded guilty to a felony in 1970. Merritt tried to tell them that he'd pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession. But they wouldn't listen and took all this firearms. Several days later, they admitted he was right and returned his guns. A spokesman told local media the agents had been working from court records that had not been updated.

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  • Plopper||

    Wow, so they admitted they were wrong?

    I'm extremely surprised.

  • Radioactive||

    right after they shot his dog...

  • Snark Plissken||

    "We told them to leave the house and go get a warrant, and they said that's fine," wife Karla Merritt said.

    "But, when we get the warrant and we come back, you're going to jail," agents reportedly told the couple.

    Michael Merritt said he had to get to work, so they let the agents take the guns.

    Merritt's mistake was having a job and being a productive member of society. If only he'd been living off the government teat, he could have laughed in their face and said, "Do your worst, coppers!"

  • ||

    The task force cross-references five databases, according to information about the law. The agent who responded to Eyewitness News said the Attorney General has a priority of being "smart on crime" and using technology to be efficient. He said many databases are disconnected and don't talk to each other.

    So here's my question cos I'm genuinely curious what you clowns think about this: which is better, government databases that talk to each other, or government databases that don't? These are your only two options in this hypothetical.

  • db||

    A big push after 9/11 was to get federal agencies "talking to.each other" and sharing.information. Seeing how.that turned.into NSA feeding.info.to various other TLAs to go.after non-terrorism-related stuff, I vote for databases that don't talk to each.other.

    If those are our only two options.

  • Radioactive||

    I vote for databases that talk to each other but in different languages so they can't understand what each one says...

  • Ted S.||

    Shaka, and the walls fell.

  • Snark Plissken||

    It was the typical solution to too much bureaucracy, create more bureaucracy, which becomes even less efficient than before. See: Tsarnaev bro's.

    It's a pretty awesome question as it really goes to the heart of the problem. Yes, real crime does exist, people get robbed, raped, murdered, etc on a daily basis, yet the increase of powers granted the po-po post 9/11 seem to have led to more abuse than crime-prevention. Would society be better off if the people in charge of enforcing the law were able to operate in a more efficient manner. Is having easy access to an international database of fingerprints a net gain or loss? Ditto, drivers license data, etc.

  • UnCivilServant||

    We're at a point where I'm downright convinced that the cops are doing more damage than the crooks, and need to be reigned in. I don't want increased efficiency if it leads to increased abuses. Throw out some of the criminal statutes, narrow the mandate of law enforcement, and relove the revenue element of traffic tickets - ie, send it as far from the writing agency as possible to remove the incentive to harvest tickets.

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    Not talk.

    The G will always go with the result they want - so if 5 databases have info, one of them incorrect, they would simply ignore the 4 correct ones and point at the wrong one and say "see, it said so in here!"

  • Floridian||

    Excellent point.

  • ||

    Several days later, they admitted he was right and returned his guns.

    Those officers should be fired. Admitting error is a breach of protocol.

  • db||

    There are no.established procedures for eating crow and admitting fault, therefore procedures were not followed, which.is evidently the.worst and only sin a government agent can commit.

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    Maybe the database accidentally said he was a retired cop, so due process was allowable?

  • Fluffy||

    I still want someone to explain how it's not unconstitutional to impose, in 2014, an additional criminal penalty and fine for an action undertaken in 1970.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Devil's advocate argument:

    That depends on when felons were barred from possession. It could technically already have been part of the 1970 "punishment" just laxly enforced. This is what they would argue at court when sued over the matter, and being the 9th circut, probably win. SCOTUS would probably deny cert on the grounds of not having a circut split on the matter.

    /end Devil's Advocate.

  • Fluffy||

    There doesn't appear to have been any long gun legislation, of any kind, in California prior to 2013.

  • Paul.||

    Didn't governor Reagan pass some gun legislation in California in reponse to the Black Panthers showing up armed to rallies? And that legislation covered long guns?

    May not meet the standards of your point, I admit.

  • WTF||

    Aaaand the real reason (all together now):

    "Fuck you, that's why."

  • Radioactive||

    FYTW

  • mr lizard||

    Sounds like a California transplant that would actually be welcome in Florida.

  • ||

    Wasn't this up a few days ago? Recycling in action?

  • UnCivilServant||

    There was still some shock left in the Police admitting wrongdoing, so they aired it again.

  • Drake||

    The shocking part of the story is that he got his guns back without a long court battle.

  • Gene||

    Indeed.

  • Paul.||

    Hey, that's... that's MY GUN IN THAT PICTURE! Springfield XD ftw!

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