Gun-Grabbing CA Cops Apologize After Relying on Faulty Database. Who Else Have They Screwed?

APPSUnder California’s
Armed and Prohibited Persons System
, state agents check
databases of gun owners against those of people forbidden to own
guns because they are, allegedly, “felons, individuals with history
of violence (domestic violence/restraining order) or severe mental
illness, wanted persons.” An armed team then proceeds to the
address of record for the prohibited person in question to ask, oh
so nicely, of course, for any weapons to be surrendered. Questions
over the validity of California’s categories of “prohibited
persons” aside, you might ask yourself what happens if the state’s
databases are in the usual, somewhat moth-eaten and incompetently
maintained condition that tends to beset government toys? What
happens to poor bastards who show up in there quite mistakenly—as
happened when a goon squad descended on the home of Michael
Merritt, over a marijuana possession charge from 1970?

Reports Carol Ferguson at

Merritt said that was the night of Nov. 5. Several agents
arrived at his door and started asking questions about which guns
he owned.

“I thought, he’s here to get my guns for some reason,” Merritt
described. “He says, ‘You have a felony here from 1970.’ I said, ‘A
felony? A pot possession charge from 1970.'”

The gun owner said the officers showed him a print-out of the
charge. It lists the offense under a code of 11910, from a Los
Angeles community. Merritt said he remembers the incident from more
than 40 years ago, and he doesn’t think the charge is on the books

“Doesn’t exist anymore,” Merritt argued. “I mean, it’s a ticket
now days.”

Eyewitness News checked the penal code, and 11910 doesn’t show

Merritt also disputed whether the charge was ever a felony.

“I truly, honestly don’t remember pleading guilty to any
felony,” he said. “The jail time was like five weekends.”

He remembered getting probation and a fine of about $100.

APPS agents aren’t allowed to enter homes on their own say so,
but they can play the usual law-enforcement trick if you tell them
to go pound sand: threaten to come back later and really jack you

“We told them to leave the house and go get a warrant, and they
said that’s fine,” wife Karla Merritt said.

“But, when we get the warrant and we come back, you’re going to
jail,” agents reportedly told the couple.

Michael Merritt said he had to get to work, so they let the
agents take the guns.

As it turns out, agents called Merritt a few days later to admit
they’d made a mistake and to say they were returning his guns. The
charge had, in fact, been a misdemeanor. But it had been entered
incorrectly in the system.

Because it would have been totally cool to threaten him and
steal his guns over a 44-year-old marijuana possession charge if it
had really been a felony.

It’s nice—commendable really—that agents bothered to dig through
the records after the fact, and then actually admitted their
mistake. You have to wonder if that’s because the poor quality of
the records isn’t exactly a revelation to officials, and this is
not an unexpected outcome.

But how many screw-ups do they miss? Or just not admit?

And how many people “legitimately” get their guns grabbed
because a politician arbitrarily decided that some relatively
innocent act (pot possession?) should be classified a felony, and
those people got caught doing it back before sideburns were

Then there’s mental illness. Does that really belong on the
list? Only about 4.3 percent
of people with a “severe” mental illness
are likely to commit
any sort of violence, according to a University of Chicago study.
But among the Californians who have had their guns grabbed is a
woman, Lynette Phillips, who suffers from anxiety

This year, California started
registering all gun owners and the guns they buy
. As
I’ve written, the ways in which government officials misuse and
abuse gun registration records is an
excellent incentive to ignore the law and keep your guns
. Michael Merritt might agree.

See Reason TV’s video, below, on the
truth about mental illness and guns

from Hit & Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.