Stolen Guns Fuel Underground Market for Criminals in California

According to Graham Barlowe, the Special Agent in Charge of the Sacramento office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, guns are considered just as valuable as cash or jewelry in a home break in. While referring to a recent string of robberies in our state’s capital Barlow stated, “Cash is extremely valuable because it can get you a number of things, but of the commodities that we find that people that are involved in criminal activity are looking for, guns are very high on the list.” At least seven gun stores have been targeted for burglaries in that area this summer.

It is reported that over 34 guns are reported lost or stolen in California every day, adding up to more than 12,000 guns a year. These stolen guns are likely used for future robberies, homicides, or gang activity. In fact, most of the guns being sold in the streets illegally are probably stolen guns that were legally purchased.

Click on this data analysis to see how many guns were reported lost or stolen to California law enforcement agencies from 2010-2015.

California Gun Laws and Grand Theft of a Firearm

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. We have laws requiring sellers of guns to be a licensed dealer (CA Penal Code § 26700), laws that prohibit people from possessing or carrying firearms in certain circumstances, and laws that prohibit any convicted felons or drug addicts from owning a gun. Owning a gun in violation of these provisions would be considered ‘unlawful possession’ of a firearm.

Specifically, “grand theft firearm” is a crime in California in which the property stolen is a gun/firearm. Prior to the passage and enactment of Prop. 47 in November 2014, any theft of a gun in California was considered “grand theft” in California and therefore a felony. Now, you may be charged and convicted of “grand theft firearm” only if:

  • The guns that were stolen were worth more than $950;
  • You have a prior conviction for a California sex crime, or a violent felony such as rape or child abuse.

Otherwise, the charge of “grand theft firearm” is now a petty theft charge instead of a felony.  It is punishable by either 16 months, two, or three years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.

San Diego Criminal Defense and Unlawful Possession Attorney

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje has handled all types of Misdemeanor and Felony criminal cases in San Diego County, including unlawful possession, stolen firearms cases, possession of illicit substances, theft crimes, and violent and nonviolent crimes. Do not try to fight a California gun charge alone. We have successfully represented many defendants and are adept at criminal trials. If you have been charged with any crime, contact attorney David Boertje today.  Consultations are free and confidential.