The Calguns Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven California residents today against Attorney General Kamala Harris, the California Department of Justice, and DOJ Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley. The case challenges the DOJ’s policy of requiring some firearm purchasers to prove their legal standing to take possession of acquired firearms and forcing them to wait beyond the statutory 10-day waiting period.
One plaintiff in the case, Daniel Schoepf of Long Beach, California, was denied his fundamental right to keep and bear arms for self-defense even after DOJ told him that he was legally eligible to purchase and possess firearms.
In 1984, Schoepf was detained in Los Angeles County for having two tablets in his pocket that were later discovered to be common, non-prescription pills. The detectives subsequently released Schoepf and no charges were filed. In 2006, DOJ firearms section Program Manager Steve Buford sent Schoepf a letter stating that he was eligible to purchase and possess firearms; however, in 2012, DOJ reversed that position and instructed Schoepf’s local firearms dealer to hold back delivery of Schoepf’s gun.
“I know I’m not alone in this, that DOJ is wrongly denying many Californians their Second Amendment rights just like they are mine,” said Schoepf. “I’m not a criminal and certainly not a disqualified convict but am a law abiding citizen with my Second Amendment rights fully intact. They left me no choice but to fight this injustice in court.”
“Over the past year, the DOJ has been directing California gun dealers to delay the release of firearms to people eligible to possess them – sometimes indefinitely,“ said Jason Davis, attorney for The Calguns Foundation. “The DOJ simply has no legal authority to justify their policy.”
The DOJ claims that these delays are primarily due to lack of information in their criminal history databases. In a July 2011 Los Angeles Times article, assistant attorney general Travis LeBlanc said the DOJ’s criminal records database system was “shoddy,” with the ‘guilty’, ‘not guilty’, or ‘case dismissed’ disposition information missing for about 7.7 million of the 16.4 million arrest records entered into the database over the last decade – and presumably much more for older cases.
“In essence, the DOJ is relying upon their improperly-maintained database to deny the fundamental rights of individuals,” said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of The Calguns Foundation. “That policy is entirely unacceptable and we look forward to putting an end to it.”
The attorney for plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Victor Otten, agrees.
“Our clients follow the law and so should the DOJ,” said Otten. “The DOJ is gleefully enforcing a policy that deprives my clients of their civil rights. The arrogance of the Department to think that it can abrogate the Constitution and statutory duties set by the Legislature is very unsettling.”
“This case really underscores the value of our DOJ Watch program,” said Brandon Combs, Executive Director of The Calguns Foundation. “Attorney General Harris’s hostility towards some civil rights predictably resulted in a shift away from former Attorney General Brown’s correct application of the law – and we are here to hold her accountable.”
The lawsuit is entitled Schoepf, et. al. vs. Kamala Harris, et. al. A copy of the complaint may be viewed or downloaded at http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/cgf_dros-delay-complaint.pdf.
Logo courtesy Calguns Foundation