The gunman in last week’s shooting in Northern California proved that even California and its strict rules on gun ownership weren’t enough to prevent a maniac looking to kill people. In this case, it appears the killer exploited the state’s “honor system” regarding firearm ownership.
When [the killer] told a judge in February that he’d turned over his only firearm, authorities relied on the “honor system,” as they often do, in taking him at his word, a Tehama County sheriff’s official said.
In the statement he made in a Feb. 22 court filing in response to a civil harassment restraining order against him, Neal said that he had turned in a single pistol to a Red Bluff gun business and that he had no other guns, records show.
Last Tuesday, [he] took a semi-automatic rifle he assembled at home, a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun registered to his wife and a .45-caliber Glock pistol he purchased in North Carolina in 2009 and went on a shooting rampage across Rancho Tehama that left four people dead. Authorities later discovered that Neal had killed his wife the night before.
On Monday, investigators said they don’t yet have information about the rifle [the gunman] used — or a second one found in a search after the attack. There is a record of Neal’s Glock in North Carolina, they said, but no record in California.
“The justice system relies on the honor system,” Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told The Times in an interview Friday. “You have to see what it is on its face. Did the guy meet the requirements of the court?”
Experts say that after [the killer] turned over a firearm and said he had no more, there was no legal requirement that authorities check that he had told the truth because he was not a felon.
“That would be pie in the sky. There aren’t resources to be able to check out the veracity of someone’s claims,” former Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said. “All you do is wait for a violation and bring it to the attention of the court.”
Of course, this is why such strict gun laws are ineffective.
Lawmakers often craft laws with the intention of making things difficult for certain people, but law enforcement doesn’t get more resources simply because the legislature decided to make new laws.
So they have to take the word of criminals, people who, by definition, are probably not worthy of the trust law enforcement is required by circumstances to give them.
This is the inevitable result of more and more gun laws. As the burden on law enforcement increased, something is going to fall by the wayside, and absent explicit requirements to the contrary, it’ll be things like following up on what felons.
But do tell us how more laws will combat these killings. California has some of the strictest laws in the country, and just how did it stop this shooting? What did it do to prevent it?
Oh yeah, not a damn thing.
It won’t stop gun grabbing politicians from trying to create more laws, though.