Under What Circumstances Can California Seize Your Firearm(s)?

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In January of 2018, the Los Angeles Times published an article stating that 10,226 Californians remained on a list of firearm owners who should not own firearms, due to subsequent issues, and were now disqualified. The firearms, according to the article, were legally bought, but those on the list have either been convicted of felonies, been judged by the court to be mentally ill, or have restraining orders against them for domestic violence.

            The Armed and Prohibited Persons System database, implemented in 2006, cross-references those who bought firearms (legally) against a database of persons convicted of the above-mentioned crimes or situations, who were either temporarily or permanently denied access to firearm ownership.

The issue has been that the list grew faster than it could be reduced by door-to-door firearm seizures completed by agents of the Department of Justice. It is also not clear if some of these seizures were done long after those who served their time and had their firearms rights returned to them, were removed, or should have been removed, from the list.

Proposition 63, Approved in 2016

            As part of Proposition 63, voted on in 2016 and approved, included The Safety for All Act of 2016. The act demands that firearm and ammunition dealers to do a background check on any person buying ammunition, and institute the 10-day waiting period.

Additionally, magazines could not be sold that carried more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Anyone who has had a firearm and/or ammunition stolen from him or her, must report it at once to law enforcement or potentially face a fine upon discovery. A final draft of the act can be read here for more information.

Looking at One Scenario Through a Criminal Defense Attorney’s Eyes

            George Johnson (not his real name), a life-long resident of California, had a misdemeanor conviction concerning a bar fight in his early days. With the help of his then criminal defense attorney, he was able to get his second amendment rights back after serving his sentence.

He legally bought a handgun to keep in his home for self-defense purposes. One day, while out grocery shopping, his home was robbed, and the firearm stolen among other items. He reported the loss to the police and hoped they could find his firearm, a Taurus GP 100 revolver.

In the meantime, he legally bought another handgun to keep in his home, as his neighborhood was experiencing a significant increase in home invasions and robberies. A few days later, when someone knocked at his door, he discovered a SWAT team waiting to arrest him and clear his home of firearms.

His new criminal defense attorney connected with his earlier attorney to ensure rights had been returned to George, which they had. The attorney also went to the police station where George had reported the theft and got copies of the report made on George’s declaration of loss of his firearm.

In preliminary court proceedings, it turned out that George, at one time, was on the state database list of those who were not allowed to own firearms, due to his earlier conviction. Yet, the database had not been updated, leaving George vulnerable to legal consequences of which he was innocent.

On further investigation, information provided by the court showed that George’s Taurus GP 100 had been used in a robbery leading to a murder. The assumptions were that George was the one who did it, because he was the registered owner. The robbery date, however, was well after the theft of his Taurus revolver from his home and after the date he had reported it to the police.

George is now considering suing the state of California for infringement of his rights and for false arrest and imprisonment, due to the fault of the state.

            If you have had your firearm and ammunition removed by the state for false reasons, call us at once for a consultation. (619) 234-2300

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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