Peace officers buying and selling assault weapons
December 22, 2011
California peace officers have bought more than 7,600 assault weapons that are outlawed for civilians in the decade since state lawmakers allowed the practice, according to data obtained by the Associated Press after it was revealed that federal authorities are investigating illegal gun sales by law enforcement. [SanFranciscoChronicle]
The AP filed a California Public Records Act request after federal authorities served search warrants in November as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of illegal weapons sales by several Sacramento-area law enforcement officers.
A 2001 law, allows peace officers to buy assault weapons “for law enforcement purposes, whether on or off duty.”
Locally, some top law enforcement officials have been operating under different licensing expectations than the general public.
In 2009, Paso Robles Police Chief Lisa Solomon was found to have not properly licensed a gun that allegedly came from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office. The lack of registration became public after a man stole Solomon’s loaded semi-automatic gun from her unlocked car.
Even though the gun was not properly licensed, then Atascadero Police Chief Jim Mulhall returned it to Solomon and did not take action against her for the failure to register her privately owned firearm even though he is in the business of gun distributing.
Mulhall, who resigned earlier this year, started dealing guns for profit in 1989. Through his home based gun dealership, Mulhall earns between $100,000 and $170,000 a year, according to Mantra.
The federal investigation and the AP’s discoveries prompted one state lawmaker to revisit the law to ensure that the guns can be bought only for police purposes.
“I think it’s much more questionable whether we should allow peace officers to have access to weapons or firearms that a private citizen wouldn’t have access to if the use is strictly personal,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento to the Chronicle.