Houman Fakhimi

Illegal Gun Owners in California Targeted by Lawmakers

California state senators have given the green light on a dozen beefed up gun laws that we expect to ultimately result in more weapons arrests in Newport Beach and throughout the state.

Some of those proposed measures included background checks for ammunition buyers and a ban on the sale, purchase and manufacture of semiautomatic rifles that can accommodate detachable magazines. (Possession, manufacture and sale of assault rifles such as all AK series, Uzis and Col AR-15 series are already illegal under California Penal Code 12280.) Under this measure, anyone who possesses those semiautomatic rifles would have to register those weapons with the state.

One bit of positive news came in the 39-0 Senate passage of a bill that would create an amnesty program for thousands of Californians who possess about 40,000 guns that they are not legally qualified to own. Reasons for disqualification include a prior criminal conviction, an outstanding arrest warrant, a temporary restraining order or severe mental illness. Also barred from possession are minors under the age of 18 and individuals who are addicted to narcotics.

The proposal from Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) would result in a 15-day amnesty period during which those who illegally possess firearms could turn them in without fear of prosecution. After that time limit has expired, the state's Department of Justice would dispatch agents to the homes of those known to be in illegal possession, confiscate the weapon, issue a fine and possibly make an arrest.

This was the one measure that gained bipartisan support, and is a companion measure to the $24 million fund the governor earmarked for clearing a backlog of weapons possessed by about 20,000 people who acquired them legally, but then were later disqualified for one of the above-mentioned reasons.

Other proposed measures that passed the senate include a provision to bar those convicted of drug and alcohol-related felonies from owning a firearm for up to 10 years.

Penalties for illegal possession of firearms can be severe. Last summer in federal court, three Fresno men, ages 19 to 26, were sentenced to between two and nine years in prison, following a joint state and federal task force investigation targeting gun and gang violence in the area.

Federally, the maximum penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, as well as $250,000 in prison.

Many, including Newport Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Houman Fakhimi, have argued that laws like this go plenty far in addressing the problem of dangerous gun ownership. Enacting further restrictions, in the words of Sen. Jim Nielsen, (R-Gerber) serves only to criminalize legal behavior in California and puts onerous burdens on otherwise law-abiding citizens.

These measures are all part of the same package that is expected to have the support of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. However, some insiders have said that a number of those measures could be struck from the package before they reach Brown's desk. It's not clear which provisions those might be.

Crimes committed with guns already subject defendants to numerous felony enhancements that will increase the amount of time one spends in prison if convicted.

Anyone arrested for a gun-related crime in Orange County should contact an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Newport Beach.

Additional Resources

California lawmakers support amnesty for illegal gun owners, May 29, 2013, By Patrick McGreevy, The Los Angeles Times.