Thursday, November 15, 2007

Two Different Laws Need Nuking

This case from California is a reminder that both the California assault weapons law needs to be repealed, and the provision of the Gun Control Act of 1968 that prohibits interstate purchases of firearms (with a few limited exceptions) needs to be repealed. From the November 14, 2007 San Diego Union-Tribune:
SAN DIEGO – An El Cajon businessman who purchased 10 guns in Arizona for a wealthy La Jolla man was sentenced Wednesday to two months in federal prison and six months of home confinement.
Jason Carl Bornholdt, who earlier pleaded guilty to a single charge of transporting firearms without a license, was also fined $37,500 by federal Judge Roger T. Benitez.
Bornholdt admitted buying weapons for Harry Rady, the son of La Jolla billionaire Ernest Rady, at a Yuma, Ariz., gun shop on three separate occasions earlier this year. The younger Rady wanted the guns to protect his family after a violent home-invasion robbery at the home of his parents that remains unsolved.
Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found 69 weapons at Bornholdt's office and home during the investigation of the case. Many of those were also transported illegally.
During Wednesday's hearing, Bornholdt was contrite. He said he was simply trying to help Rady, a friend, during a difficult time.
A lifelong gun enthusiast, Bornholdt said many of the weapons he had were used for shooting competitions and other recreational activities. He has had to forfeit a truck and sell his gun collection as a result of his plea.
Government prosecutors sought a sentence of 24 months, but Benitez said that did not fit the facts of the case.
While saying Bornholdt clearly knew what he was doing was wrong, the judge noted Bornholdt's clean criminal record and the fact that he was not using the guns for drug deals or other unlawful means. Benitez said a two-year sentence would be about the same as he gives people accused of smuggling drugs across the border. But he said some prison time was required.
Home invasion? Well, I can understand why someone might have felt a need for better weapons. Yes, you can buy pretty respectable home defense weapons in California--still--but I confess after reading this other story about the home invasion, I can see why someone was tempted to break both federal and California law. From the October 20, 2007 San Diego Union-Tribune:

The home invasion of billionaire La Jolla philanthropist Ernest Rady was more violent and sophisticated than initially reported and could involve people in other states or countries, according to court documents.

During the attack in February, Rady was not only stung with a Taser but also cut; the weapon was not specified. The assailant told Rady, a financial services and real estate magnate, that he had companions outside, including snipers.
That information, as well as excerpts from reports by private security consultants hired by the family after the still-unsolved attack, are contained in documents prepared for the sentencing of Harry Rady, one of Ernest's sons.
Harry Rady pleaded guilty July 31 to illegally receiving firearms without a license. Rady admitted buying 10 guns, including three Romanian AK-47 rifles from an El Cajon man. His lawyer said he bought the guns on the advice of a security consultant to protect his wife and two young daughters from possible kidnap attempts.
A preliminary police report said the home invasion began about 4 p.m. Feb. 6 when a man rang the doorbell of the Rady home and said he had a letter that he needed Ernest Rady's wife, Evelyn, to sign. When she opened the door, he pulled out a handgun and forced his way inside.
He stunned Evelyn Rady and a housekeeper with a Taser and bound them with duct tape. Ernest Rady arrived home after 6 p.m. and also was shocked with the Taser. The assailant turned down offers of jewelry and, according to the initial report, ended up with $43 in cash.
The man apparently napped, and when he left about 10 p.m. he told the family he was taking a taxi.
Police have released no other details. But Paul Cooper, the legal counsel to police Chief William Lansdowne, said in an Oct. 10 letter to the Rady family lawyer that the investigation is “open and active.” The letter was included in the court filings.
Cooper also wrote it was “a very complicated investigation that has both interstate as well as international aspects to it.”
The court papers contain parts of a report from a security expert the family hired in March. The name of the security firm was not included in the filings.
The expert concluded that the attack was planned; the assailant was looking for something specific; and “advanced technology” was used, including a wireless headset to communicate with someone on the outside.
The expert also said kidnapping and ransom were the biggest dangers confronting the family.
The consultant told an alarmed Harry Rady that he needed “more aggressive firepower” than he already had in his La Jolla home. Harry Rady contacted Jason Bornholdt, an El Cajon construction contractor who once worked for him, and arranged to buy weapons.
This is what upsets me so much about gun control laws that are not narrowly aimed at criminals, but are intended to prohibit the law-abiding as well.

If I were a billionaire, instead of breaking California and federal law, I would say goodbye to California, and move somewhere that I am allowed to defend myself. And maybe spend some of that enormous wealth helping to elect people to California's legislature who are more concerned about locking up criminals than making criminals of their victims.

As much as it may be a surprise to you, there are a lot of people who live in California who are not independently wealthy, and can't just afford to pick up and move to a state with more sensible gun control laws after something traumatic like a home invasion. These are the people who get the full tragedy of California's idiocy: laws that reduce the access of victims to the most effective home defense weapons. For some odd reason, these laws don't seem to discourage those planning robbery, rape, and murder, from being adequately armed for their tasks.

I'm not sure of the exact motivation for GCA68's ban on interstate gun sales. I suspect that it was because there was no national background check system (we have one now), and to make it easier for states that did have background check or licensing systems to enforce those rules. The granddaddy of this is the 1927 federal law that bans mailing of handguns. While there were a lot of reasons for this, I do recall seeing some Congressional speeches that involved a member of Congress from Tennessee complaining that otherwise there was no way to keep black people from getting pistols.

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