Good Gun Laws, Bad Gun Regulations

There are rules for owning guns in California. Some of these rules are for firearms in general. Some regulations are for specific categories of firearms, such as handguns or assault rifles. It is improper to apply the law for a category of firearms by creating regulations for all firearms not in that legal category.

Even when regulations are properly applied to a category of firearms it is possible to be so restrictive or vague that the original intent of the law is ignored. Both of these situations apply to me. In particular, there appears to be so much flexibility and discretion in the area of residency that requirements can be fabricated out of thin air without any connection to the law.

Problem Number One. Like many rural Californians, I live on a bad road with no mail delivery at my residence. My California Commercial Drivers License shows my PO Box on my license. The DMV refuses to put a physical address on my license if I do not receive mail there. However, if I ask for a printout of my driving record, after showing my drivers license, I will receive a document with a California State stamp that lists both my physical and mailing addresses. This not good enough to buy a shotgun.

Problem Number Two. I don’t have a currently registered vehicle. This is partly due to expense and partly from having to barricade my driveway for security reasons. I ride a bike, take the bus, and occasionally rent cars. This should not make me a bad person.

Problem Number Three. Most utilities in California are private companies. The addresses on those bills apparently are worthless for documentation purposes. In the city of Clearlake there is a private garbage company, a private phone company, a private power company, a private cable company, and two out of the three water companies are private. Many people are on wells. My water comes from the one Special District in Clearlake but the content on its bill does not meet either the gun stores’ or the Bureau of Firearms’ standards.

Problem Number Four. I bought my first lot where I live now when I was still living in San Jose. Over time I bought five more contiguous lots, performed two separate multiple lot mergers, and moved onto the property in 2002. None of this paper work shows a current physical address. My current property tax bill does show a physical address but it is not accepted by gun store clerks. Since they want to sell guns I assume they are acting on Bureau of Firearms instructions.

Assuming that the Bureau of Firearms is behind this erroneous interpretation of otherwise reasonable laws, I am asking that the Attorney General over ride this mistake by issuing a correct interpretation. I believe this interpretation should take note that 1) Someone should not have to live in a residence that can receive mail in order to buy a shotgun. 2) Someone should not have to own a registered vehicle in order to be qualified to buy a shotgun. 3) Someone should not have to get service from non existent government utilities to buy a shotgun. 4) Someone should not have to convince the rare government utility to change their billing practices so I can buy a shotgun.  And 5), someone should be able to substitute a tax bill for a deed if the deed only shows plot numbers and not an address.

I’ve been background checked to be a security supervisor, a transit bus operator, a census worker, and a school teacher. I’ve been finger printed and drug tested more times than I can count. I am a property owner, earned two college degrees, and am active in community affairs. My record is spotless. I am a responsible person. But the Bureau of Firearms says I cannot buy a shotgun unless I meet their impossible conditions.

There is nothing in existing law that suggests that the Bureau of Firearms has made reasonable interpretations. Yes, I contacted the Bureau and they blew me off. Enforcing existing firearm laws should not stray from the original intent of those laws. I am not advocating any change in the law, so unless there is some agenda I am not aware of, I expect common sense procedural changes to be made that will allow a poor, retired rural person to buy a shotgun.