Ammunition background checks lead to dozens of firearms seized across state, including in SoCal, in recent operations

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The California Attorney General's Office released this photo of firearms and ammunition seized from Rene Navas of Lancaster on May 11, 2020.

The California Attorney General’s Office released this photo of firearms and ammunition seized from Rene Navas of Lancaster on May 11, 2020.

Ammunition background checks led to the recent seizure of dozens of weapons across the state, including in Southern California, from individuals deemed unfit to posses them, authorities announced Tuesday.

Operations in April and May across 12 jurisdictions resulted in the confiscation of 51 firearms, including four assault weapons and two untraceable “ghost guns”; 123 magazines, including 33 large-capacity magazines; 28,518 rounds of ammunition; and 120 grams of methamphetamine and heroin, according to the California Attorney General’s Office.

Authorities executed search warrants after the offenders tried to purchase ammunition but were denied through ammunition background checks, which currently remain in effect after a federal judge’s decision to block them in April and rule in favor of the California Rifle & Pistol Association. The judge said the checks violate Californians’ Second Amendment rights.

Attorney General Xavier Beccera secured a stay of the preliminary injunction while the case is on appeal, according to his office. The ammunition background checks became law after Californians voted for Proposition 63 in 2016, making California the first and only state to approve such background checks, officials said.

Individuals banned from purchasing ammunition in the Armed and Prohibited Persons System database include people with felony or violent misdemeanor convictions, those who have been placed under a restraining order, including in cases that involve domestic violence, and those who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness.

California Department of Justice agents confiscated the following in Southern California with help from local authorities, according to Becerra’s office:

• One handgun, six large-capacity magazines, 45 rounds of ammunition and one gram of meth from Roger Witt of Bakersfield on April 23.
• One handgun and two standard magazines from Emily Correro of Woodland Hills on May 4.
• One unregistered assault weapon, two large-capacity magazines, one standard magazine, and about 200 rounds of ammunition from Carrickie Sirithongdy of Moreno Valley on May 7.
• Three handguns, four rifle lower receivers, 12 large-capacity magazines, 13 standard magazines and about 2,115 rounds of ammunition from Rene Navas of Lancaster on May 11.

All search warrants were conducted in homes, officials said. The attorney general’s office did not provide further information about the individuals’ backgrounds.

“Our commonsense law requiring background checks for ammunition sales not only can save lives, it keeps our communities safe,” Becerra said after announcing the stay on the injunction last week. “Violent criminals and people with serious mental illnesses shouldn’t be able to get their hands on ammunition.”

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