A ‘ghost’ gun ‘assault’ rifle in Pioneer.

More than 15,000 rounds of ammunition in Auburn.

Six large-capacity magazines and a gram of methamphetamine in Bakersfield.

These are among the items special agents in California found in the last month during a dozen operations to confiscate firearms and ammunition possessed by owners who failed background checks.

The agents seized a total 51 firearms, including assault weapons and ‘ghost’ guns — weapons unable to be traced because they have no serial number — 28,518 rounds of ammunition and more than 120 magazines, according to a Tuesday announcement from the California Department of Justice. Drugs found included 116 grams of methamphetamine and four grams of heroin.

“Gun violence is the last thing our communities and children should have to fear during a public health crisis,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra, refererring to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “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.”

The operations were conducted after special agents obtained search warrants when someone failed an ammunition purchase background check, as required by a 2016 California law.

More than 750 people were blocked from illegally purchasing ammunition during the second half of 2019, Becerra’s office said.

A man in Turlock, for example, attempted to buy ammunition, which resulted in special agents seizing a handgun, two shotguns, a bolt-action rifle, a standard magazine, and more than 1,000 round sof ammunition.

A failed purchase in Oakland instigated a raid that turned up a handgun, four magazines, 96 rounds of ammunition and two grams of heroin.

An Oakdale operation after an ammunition purchase attempt led to the confiscation of, among others, a hand gun, assault rifle parts and a gram of meth.

A Sacramento Bee investigation late last year found that because of the 345,547 ammunition background checks completed, 62,000 were rejected because the buyer’s personal information was incorrectly entered into the system.

The law inspired a suit filed by gun activists, and a federal judge blocked it in April.

“The experiment has been tried. The casualties have been counted. California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” wrote U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez of the Southern District of California in San Diego.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco then granted Becerra a stay while the case is litigated.

Becerra’s office said the raids also helped close 400 cases in the Armed and Prohibited Persons System, a database the state has used since 2006 to track illegal ownershop of firearms. Local agencies work with the state’s department to confiscate the weapons owned by people barred from that possession either due to mental health conditions, crime convictions or restraining orders against them.

California for years had a growing backlog of prohibited persons. In 2019, the state removed nearly 10,000 names from the database, while simultaneously adding more than 8,000 new people.

The database currently has 22,424 people in the system.


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