The California Department of Justice is processing nearly 70,000 applications to register assault weapons as a gun rights group this week filed suit, alleging that the DOJ’s online registration system crashed as the June 30 deadline ran down, possibly making criminals of those who couldn’t register.
A DOJ spokeswoman rejected allegations about the registration issues.
A Bakersfield man, meanwhile, faces multiple felony charges after he ran afoul of the DOJ’s system.
Californians possessing a firearm defined as an assault weapon equipped with a “bullet button,” which allows quick release of an ammunition magazine, were required to register the weapon by June 30. To do so, the DOJ sent them to an online site to provide their personal information and photos of their firearms.
According to DOJ press secretary Jennifer Molina, the agency received 68,848 applications by the deadline.
Molina also said the “website functioned appropriately,” and the DOJ had not yet received the lawsuit filed by gun rights advocates. She said the DOJ was “prepared to respond in court.”
The Firearms Policy Coalition alleges that the DOJ has approved the registration of 12,519 firearms as assault weapons submitted by 6,213 persons by June 30 and had another 52,443 applications pending as of June 30.
The group estimated that by that rate, it would take 2.15 years to process the remaining applications. In addition, the coalition alleged that the DOJ built a “burdensome, highly complicated system,” and was not prepared to process the volume of applications it received.
As the deadline approached the night of Saturday, June 30, users of the Calguns.net discussion forum complained that they could not process their applications because the website either froze up or crashed. Gun rights advocates, including the Firearms Policy Coalition, urged applicants to take screenshots to document difficulties and provided names of firearms attorneys to contact for help.
The lawsuit, filed July 11, alleges the DOJ violated gun owners’ “civil rights protected under the state and federal constitutions.”
Molina, of the DOJ, could not be reached to respond to the specific allegations.
Under the assault weapons law, those found in violation could face either misdemeanor or felony charges for possession of an unregistered firearm. The penalties are more severe for someone arrested on suspicion of transporting one of the weapons.
A Bakersfield man, Jeffrey Scott Kirschenmann, was arrested in May after his house was raided by DOJ agents after he tried to register an illegally modified rifle, according to KGET.com.
Court documents say the agents raided his home because the gun allegedly did not comply with state regulations. They seized a dozen guns, 230 rounds of ammunition and two silencers from a home in a gated community in northwest Bakersfield. He was charged with 12 felonies for allegedly possessing assault rifles, silencers and a multi-burst trigger activator.
It is unlikely that anyone knows how many assault weapons there are in the state, and therefore how many owners of the guns complied with the registration, because there is no national registry of firearms.
(c)2018 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)
Visit The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) at www.fresnobee.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.