Second Amendment

California Gun Law Paves the Way for Confiscation

Starting in 2014, the state will keep a list of every gun owner and the specific guns each person buys.


Model 1911
Sam Lisker

SACRAMENTO—Gun registration had always seemed like the "line in the sand" — a proposal that would so offend the nation's gun-rights advocates that they would bring out their full political muscle to stop it. Yet a California law mandating government record-keeping for all new long-gun purchases goes into effect on Jan. 1 and few people even seem to know about it.

This year, gun owners were relieved that Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the toughest gun-control measures that came to his desk, including one that would have banned sales of almost all semi-automatic rifles. But back in 2011, after much debate, the governor signed the registration law, AB 809, with a 2014 start date. It's far broader than any of the bills the governor dealt with in the last session.

Supporters claim it's not exactly registration, in that the law calls for the state to retain background-check records of those who purchase guns and does not register specific guns to specific people. Opponents say that's just semantics. The main element of registration is that the government can track legal gun owners. In this case the department will have a list of every owner and the specific guns each person buys. The state already tracks the purchases of handguns and "assault weapons."

The new law will bolster a program that has generated much controversy. Earlier this month, legislators held hearings on the effectiveness of the Armed Prohibited Persons System, used to confiscate the firearms of California residents who are no longer eligible to own them. The California Department of Justice relies on the current ownership lists to identify gun owners and cross check those with lists of people who have been convicted of crimes or have been involuntarily committed for mental issues.

The state auditor found, in a report released in October, that the department has not sufficiently notified courts and mental-health officials of their reporting requirements. Despite a new $24-million state appropriation, the auditor found that the program has failed to take guns from nearly 21,000 Californians who have forfeited their gun rights.

Some Republican legislators have been complaining about this failure, even though a better system would lead to additional gun confiscations.

The current mental-health, criminal and gun databases are already riddled with errors, according to Chuck Michel, a California-based civil-rights attorney who represents gun-rights organizations, "It (the new long-gun system) is likely to be just as error-ridden as these other databases," he said. Some people complain that the Department of Justice is not giving gun retailers, who are responsible for submitting the information to the state, much guidance.

These problems can lead to the mistaken confiscations of guns from people who shouldn't be on the list. "(W)e found that some key staff decisions, such as determining that a specific individual is not an armed prohibited person, are not subject to supervisory review once staff complete training," the auditor reported. "In fact, three of eight such decisions we reviewed were incorrect."

Gun Owners of California reported recently that the system is anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent incorrect. Others put the percentage lower, but it's still high. In many cases, the department doesn't reinstate the gun rights of people who are allowed to once again own them, said the group's executive director, Sam Paredes. A vastly expanded ownership list will lead to more mistakes.

The new law also expands the infrastructure for confiscation for other reasons (i.e., after specific types of guns are banned). This is not an unfounded worry. In the 1990s, the state used registration lists to demand that many law-abiding assault-weapons owners relinquish their guns. "Registration has led to confiscation in California," Michel said. "Registration is leading to confiscation in New York right now."

Gun-ownership lists raise other fears. Police have lobbied for long-gun registration as a means to promote the safety of police officers by letting them know whether someone may be armed when police go to a house to make an arrest. But civil libertarians worry that police officers may overreact if they gain such information, which can be a big problem given the number of Californians who own shotguns for home defense and rifles for hunting and target practice. (The Department of Justice confirmed that local police agencies have access to these lists.)

"My research into more than a dozen raids that turned out badly is that … the presence of a firearm wires officers into a much higher tendency to shoot," said Joseph McNamara, the former San Jose police chief and a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "(T)he presence of a legally possessed firearm bought to protect the home may get totally innocent people killed by the police who casually use SWAT for drug search warrants especially if they register."

Statistics from Canada, which required long-gun registration before abandoning it, find that only a tiny portion (around 4 percent) of such guns used in homicides are registered to those who commit the crimes. So police officials who use ownership lists to "protect" themselves will be gaining a false sense of security given the unlikelihood of criminals to use properly reported guns.

Gun-rights supporters have just introduced an initiative that would include gun rights specifically in the state constitution. The measure would forbid registration, but it's unclear whether backers can gain sufficient resources to wage a statewide campaign. An ongoing federal case could arguably affect California's system, also.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, recently announced his plans to introduce a ban on so-called "ghost guns" (untraceable guns made by three-dimensional printers) unless they are pre-registered with the state. This surely will be the first of many new gun-control measures that will be introduced when the Legislature reconvenes next month. But if gun-rights groups couldn't stop the new long-gun record system, it's hard to imagine they have any more lines to draw.

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  1. Link up the gun owner database with Obamacare and you get a list of people who need to pay surcharges on their premiums.

    1. I don’t know if that was a joke or you believe that gun owners get sick more often or self inflicted wounds?

      Or your poking fun at the ACA problems?

      Sorry… I didn’t get the Friday Funny either. I guess I’m not feeling the funny today.

      1. We’re not sure about Tim. He’s really not all that bright.

  2. I’m so glad I don’t live there anymore.
    Practically everything I own would be registered or banned there.
    And then there are my guns…

    1. This is one reason the California gun laws are passing. The folks who value their rights have voted with their feet, leaving gun-grabbers in the majority.

      Not that I blame you.

      I got another call yesterday from someone wanting to know how to move to Texas with firearms. I love passing out good news.

      1. If I’m still in California this time next year it will be because I’m six feet under.

      2. How to move anywhere with firearms:

        Put in car. Fucking go.

        1. Just don’t go through New Joisy!

        2. PS, addendum? Also, if Piggly-Wigglies get in the way, shoot them dead, we will all be better off? Trees of Liberty need watered, time to time, with the blood of tyrants, ya know?

    2. I remember when I docked my sailboat in Marina Del Ray. I started getting nasty letters from the State of California demanding I pay taxes on a boat flagged in Chicago, IL. Long story short, I told them to fuck off, and the boat is now far away. Of course, it has never been to Chicago to pay taxes either…but…

  3. and does not register specific guns to specific people.

    If you just have a list of homes to search, you can seize any and all weapons.

    1. What list of homes? I had a gun-grabber tell me that whole neighborhoods should be cordoned off and every home systematically searched.
      I wonder how enthusiastic the searchers would be after three or four of them were blown away by “from my dead hands” guys.

  4. Gun Owners of California reported recently that the system is anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent incorrect.

    Good enough for government work.

  5. Two garbage pits of human debris:


    New York City

    You people are absolutely sick.

    1. You’re a collectivist.


    2. Thanks for lumping all Californians together. I, and my other gun owning friends, have been trying to fight this nonsense all along.

      1. Not all Californians may be garbage, but California is still garbage.

      2. you have support here, UT NV MT ID COL we are watching this regularly. many of us have families in California, that we are concerned about. I have researched this “gift” policy of yours, where I can give a family member or friend a gun as a gift and he wont be held to the same rules. I read up on it in Cabell’s. and was quite surprised, how much they know. let us know what we can to help you get your constitutional rights back….last time I checked you are still in the USA…. act like it

  6. Meanwhile, state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, recently announced his plans to introduce a ban on so-called “ghost guns” (untraceable guns made by three-dimensional printers) unless they are pre-registered with the state.

    Because we all know people opposed to committing felonies with a firearm will surely be stopped once they find out their weapon is illegal.

    It’s cognitive dissonance at its finest.

    1. people unopposed**

      1. Just mentioning certain state Senators reduces your IQ.

  7. What is the purpose of registration, if not for eventual confiscation?

    1. This is obviously the reasoning of a paranoid psychotic mindset.

      Which is why you will be put on a list and monitored. For you own good.

  8. Why are some guns considered “assault” while others aren’t. Aren’t all guns used to “assault” something or someone? That poor target never saw it coming.

    Why aren’t hammers, knives, box cutters and gravity considered “assault” weapons? They have all been used to assault.

    I told you I didn’t have my funny today. Shouldn’t even try. 🙁

  9. Meanwhile in Detroit, a police chief James Craig said that “good community members who have concealed weapons permits” (CCWs) deter crime and save lives.…..aves-Lives

  10. I hope the ATF does another Fast & Furious gun distribution program, because they lose all the records and have to wait for the guns to show up at crime scenes to figure out WTF happened.

    Plus, for all the new gun owners the guns are ‘free’ in the sense somebody else paid for them. And its like a reverse nanny-list of guns eligible for the giveaway-untraceable subsidy program. No revolvers or wimpy bolt-actions allowed. AK’s? AR’s? Barretts? Here you go!

    1. My Ruger GP100 is not wimpy

  11. Nearly as many people die in the U.S. every year from AIDS as from murders by gun. Should people with HIV be registered? If not, why is there a greater right to privately have a fatal contagious disease, than to privately own a gun?

    1. because people with AIDS are all adorable gay people and people with guns are racist rednecks

      1. It’s sad how true-to-fact this is.

        The problem is; guns only fire in one direction or AIDS isn’t as effectively lethal as a firearm or both.

  12. There really is no justification for this crap.

    As I posted in a previous thread, an RCMP friend of mine essentially told me gun control and registries that go with it are hogwash.

    Social mythology.

    The Auditor-General of Canada said as much. $2 billion flushed down the toilet.

  13. I for one don’t have a problem with this?.since I don’t and never will live in California or Chicago or NYC. Frankly, this is a good experiment, just like IL/Chicago and NYC. Let it happen. People who don’t agree can hopefully leave the state and find a place that is more consistent with their beliefs and values. And in a few years we can compare results. I suspect that we will once again affirm the wisdom our those who founded our country and toiled to create our constitution.

    1. Yeah, the Jews should’ve just left Germany!

      You honestly don’t really value a pervasive libertarian ideology until you live in a place like Chicago or NYC.

    2. Except that the results will never be compared for honest reason’s and lessons will never be learned.

      It will simply become a rallying cry by grabbers in other states that “it worked so well in Cali and we should do it here”.

  14. Police have lobbied for long-gun registration as a means to promote the safety of police officers by letting them know whether someone may be armed when police go to a house to make an arrest.

    Of course what the list of registered gun owners actually gets law enforcement is a list of people who have passed criminal and mental health background checks, folks who are therefore much less likely to harm officers. Particularly if the officers approach in a reasonable manner.

    In most states when you show cops your CHL they relax.

  15. Use police incompetence as an excuse to steal people’s property. Brilliant…

  16. “Starting in 2014, the state will keep a list of every gun owner and the specific guns each person buys.”
    Every *reporting* owner, that is.

  17. California residents should always cross state lines to buy their guns.

    There may be a business opportunity here for some in the adjoining states.

    Just like liquor stores adjoining some dry counties.

    1. ok first of all in theory your right, unfortunately no one I know that has a FFL is willing to sell a Californian a banned weapon. so that makes option 2. personal adds. I would never trade any of my guns to a Cali resident. however I may be persuaded to “gift” a family member, say a nephew, a gun. which under California law is perfectly legal. there are also other ways this can happen ,it’s not uncommon to find someone to sell you a weapon for cash, and totally within his rights to not ask for a bill of sale, gives the gun to you. this is your best option. as 3 of my weapons are what we call un papered. they do not exist in my home. often times it will take a little higher cash and a road trip. but believe me. I have been to enough gun shows to know it happens. it happens legit. it happens sideways. and it happens back door. just be carful… find a friend in a state you know has relaxed laws, wire him your wish list, let him work his web site magic. presto you now own a banned AR 15 you can drive into Oregon or NY or NJ. just know the rules. and how to break it down so it fits in luggage. its not illegal, it was a gift from your friend. because he likes you. from there use discretion, and have fun shootin zombies

  18. Curious how this armed prohibited person thing works. The gun owner is not necessarily the user. Don’t you really want to prohibit users? A blind person could own a car driven by a family member or a hired driver. So I would think that a prohibited person should just be allowed to keep his property for use by his spouse or children. He shouldn’t have to give it to his wife–that does not make much sense if you’re married, it’s joint property.

  19. joint property

    Hey. Isn’t that a Federal offense?

  20. If you are considering moving to 2nd amendment friendly Texas in the Dallas/Fort Worth area contact me…I’m a Realtor

  21. So if I lived in the People’s Republic of California or New York or Connecticut and I refused to register my firearms within their time limit then I become a criminal, but the Supreme Court says that a criminal can’t be prosecuted for not registering his guns because that would violate his 5th Amendment Right against being forced to incriminate himself. Do whatever you think is best for you, if it ever comes up for me I will take mine out of the state and might not even bring them back on the same trip.

  22. Use police incompetence as an excuse to steal people’s property

  23. Use police incompetence as an excuse to steal people’s property

  24. Use police incompetence as an excuse to steal people’s property

  25. Let me explain this to the almighty Progressive. People have a right to defend themselves.

    And as far as violence–it is ever increasing because of our moral breakdown. I know I know God forbid I bring up morals to a Progressive. You blather over and over about school shootings having nothing to do with moral breakdown–it’s all the guns. Of course that doesn’t explain the epidemic of the knock out game does it.
    People the last action before tyranny slides in is to disarm the population. If you would like to live under a European style tyrant then keep believing you don’t have the right to firearms. Because my fiction wasn’t a grand theory—it was based on imprisoned nations that were weak knee’d like the Progressives here.

    My fictional work has this issue–using violence to defend against tyranny. Jefferson not only understood the concept but knew one day
    blood would have to be spilled. There is a reason I don’t live in California any longer and reside between WY and AK. But I can tell you if they start going door to door in Cali then the gun owners have every right to do whatever is necessary to defend the Second Amendment

    Charles Hurst. Author of THE SECOND FALL. An offbeat story of Armageddon. And creator of THE RUNNINGWOLF EZINE

  26. When are you Libs going to get it? Guns don’t kill people…. PEOPLE kill PEOPLE…. Legal weapons do just as good a job as Illegal weapons do…. this is a society issue not a gun issue.

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