SAN CARLOS, Calif., Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Calguns Foundation filed a new federal civil rights lawsuit this morning on behalf of three California residents, naming Attorney General Kamala Harris and DOJ Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley as defendants. The case challenges the California Department of Justice's practice of denying individuals' fundamental rights protected under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
The Department, through defendants Harris and Lindley, have been and continue to enforce a policy of forbidding many gun purchasers from taking possession of their lawfully-obtained firearms through what are commonly referred to as "DROS delays", sometimes for over a year or indefinitely.
One plaintiff in the case, Darren Owen of Taft, California, has been denied his firearm for over 18 months."It's the government's responsibility to timely prove that someone has already been adjudicated and their Constitutional right to purchase and possess guns taken away through due process," explained Gene Hoffman, the Foundation's Chairman. "It's not the individual's job to prove that they have fundamental rights." "By shifting the burden to the individual, the DOJ is blatantly violating the Constitution and thumbing its nose at the U.S. Supreme Court's D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago decisions." Victor Otten, an attorney for the plaintiffs, agrees. "Our clients are not prohibited from owning guns under state and federal law," noted Otten. "The bottom line is that if the DOJ cannot determine that someone is ineligible to possess firearms in a timely manner with all of the databases and law enforcement resources it has at its disposal, then they have no choice but to allow our clients and other similarly-situated gun owners to take possession of their firearms." Under current California law, the DOJ must permit a firearm purchaser to receive their firearm at the end of the 10-day DROS background check period unless it determines that the purchaser is not eligible to possess or purchase firearms. Earlier this year, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D - San Francisco) amended his bill AB 500 to allow the Department of Justice to deny the release of firearms for up to 30 days. AB 500 is presently awaiting California Governor Jerry Brown's action. "We've received hundreds of reports like those at issue in this case and it's a virtual certainty that there are thousands of others like the individual plaintiffs out there," said the Foundation's Executive Director, Brandon Combs. "The DOJ's policy is nothing short of outrageous." Continued Combs, "It's time for the DOJ to respect the Second Amendment. If the Attorney General and her staff refuse to do it voluntarily, we will not hesitate to force it in the courts. In filing this case, we seek to ensure that the Constitutionally-enshrined fundamental rights of Californians to buy and possess firearms are respected no matter how far Ms. Harris or Assemblymember Ammiano might wish the DOJ's powers extended."