California Exploits Ammunition Background Checks to Confiscate Guns

Since last July 1, California has required background checks for those purchasing firearm ammunition. As we noted, by December 2019 the state had run 345,000 background checks and rejected 62,000 Californians legally entitled to purchase ammunition, including off-duty sheriff’s deputies purchasing shotgun shells to hunt ducks. Officials blamed glitches in the system, but for Ari Freilich of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the system was working as intended, as a “red flag” law allowing seizure of weapons from those who have committed no crime. As it turns out, Freilich was on to something.

Last month, the state Department of Justice mounted “a dozen operations to confiscate firearms and ammunition possessed by owners who failed background checks,” the Sacramento Bee reports. Agents seized 51 firearms, 28,518 rounds of ammunition and more than 120 magazines, and there was more. They also found 116 grams of methamphetamine and a whopping four grams of heroin. No word on whether those who possessed the drugs were part of any legal needle exchange program like the one in San Francisco

“Gun violence is the last thing our communities and children should have to fear during a public health crisis,” proclaimed Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Background checks can save lives and DOJ’s firearms operations help make that happen. At the California Department of Justice, we’ll keep doing our part to keep firearms out of the hands of violent and dangerous individuals.” Californians concerned about their Second Amendment rights might note a couple things here.

The DOJ raids were not in response to actual cases of “gun violence,” and there is no evidence the raids saved lives. For Becerra’s DOJ, anyone who fails their background check system, the same one that denied purchases to more than 60,000 law abiding gun owners, is automatically considered dangerous. DOJ agents then swoop in to confiscate their guns. What could possibly go wrong?

U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez in San Diego ruled that the ammunition law “defies common sense while unduly and severely burdening the Second Amendment rights of every responsible, gun-owning citizen desiring to lawfully buy ammunition.” Last month, as CBS News reports, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Becerra’s request to stay the order from Judge Benitez. 

Also in April, while the state was blocking ammunition sales and confiscating guns, California released 3,500 prison inmates, including seven violent sex offenders in Orange County. One of them, Luis Joel Ramirez, has a history of sexual battery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, and has violated parole four times. Stay safe everybody.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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