A California man had his home raided, guns seized, and will appear in court this week to face a dozen state felony charges after attempting to register a rifle in accordance with state law.
Jeffrey Scott Kirschenmann attempted to register an AR-15 with the California Department of Justice last month but instead found himself in significant legal trouble. The California DOJ accused Kirschenmann of illegally modifying the rifle he attempted to register. Law enforcement officials raided his home in Bakersfield before ultimately confiscating a dozen firearms and a few hundred rounds of ammunition, then charging him with a dozen felonies, KGET reports. Kirschenmann was accused of possession of assault weapons, two silencers, and something referred to as a "multi-burst trigger activator." He does not appear to have been charged with any violent crimes.
The issues stem from a new California gun law, one of the strictest in the country, which redefined an "assault weapon" and required anyone with a gun that fell under the new definition to register it with the state. Joe Pilkington, a court-recognized firearms expert, told the news station that California's continually changing gun laws can be very difficult to navigate without professional help.
"Just in the last few years, there have been lots of changes in gun laws," Pilkington told KGET. "Making an effort, a good faith effort to comply with these really complicated laws, should count for something. There is this self-registration application on the Department of Justice website, but it may be better to talk to an FFL [Federal Firearms License holder]. Someone who has a license, to talk through whatever these complications are."
The National Rifle Association said Kirschenmann's ordeal is proof that even those who attempt to comply with California's gun laws can still get caught up in them.
"California residents attempting to comply with the Golden State's ever-increasing swamp of firearms laws and regulations should take warning," the gun-rights group said in a post on its Institute for Legislative Action website. "A good faith effort to obey the state's labyrinthine firearm rules will not spare a gun owner in technical violation of the law from the wrath of the California Department of Justice."
The NRA said California's prosecution of Kirschenmann is likely to make other gun owners wary of coming forward to register their guns. They pointed to the historical reluctance of California's gun owners to comply with registration attempts and said this case would only make things worse.
"The California DOJ's persecution of Kirschenmann, following what appears to have been an honest attempt to obtain assistance in complying with state law, will sow further mistrust between the state government and gun owners," the group said in the post. "With woeful registration compliance rates, one might expect gun control's true believers to show leniency to those who make an attempt to comply with the law. Of course, that notion assumes gun-control advocates consider registration in itself to be a valuable public policy. In truth, anti-gun advocates value registration only so far as it creates an additional barrier to gun ownership and enables confiscation. Understanding this, California's gun-control laws have worked precisely as intended in Kirschenmann's case."
The California DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.