Articles Tagged with weapons charges

A man is facing a plethora of charges after he shot a BB gun at a business in Oceanside. The man was identified as Steve Soto, 23, of Carlsbad. Soto allegedly drove to Bliss Tea & Treats at approximately 7:10 p.m. and fired a BB gun at the business, which resulted in a shattered window. The cost of the damage was estimated at over $1,800. 


The business had signage posted that they were owned by black people and that they were in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Using surveillance footage, San Diego detectives were able to identify the vehicle that Soto was in when he shot at the business. Eventually, that footage helped the authorities arrest Soto.


Soto is facing vandalism and  hate crime charges for his actions. Additionally, he also is looking at assault with a deadly weapon for a prior offense in which he used his BB gun to shoot another man. The criminal complaint states that both incidents have also added two misdemeanor counts of discharging a BB gun in a grossly negligent manner to the list. 


Soto pleaded not guilty to all of the charges during his arraignment. The owners of Bliss Tea & Treats served him with a protective order requiring him to keep his distance from them, and the victim who was shot in the May incident also received a protective order against Soto. Soto is being held in custody and will be going back to court this month.


After the news came out about the incident, a GoFundMe page was created for the shop. The page successfully raised over $3,000 for the owners of Bliss Tea & Treats to put toward fixing the damage caused by the shooting.


Is a BB Gun Considered a Weapon in California?


In California, PC 245(a) makes it illegal to assault another party using a deadly weapon or any type of tool that is not a gun. The law does identify BB guns as an instrument, not a firearm. This is so because PC 16700 dictates that BB guns are not considered real guns, but rather imitation guns. Despite not being considered a real gun, they are still considered a weapon when they are used to commit an assault on another person. When you intend to cause another person harm by shooting your BB gun, and the BB pellets connect with a victim causing injuries, you could be looking at an assault with a deadly weapon charge in California.

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California is already known for having the toughest gun control laws in the United States. With Proposition 63, the rule requiring background checks for ammo purchases, taking effect on July 1, 2019, the state takes another step toward regulating gun laws. Michael Schwartz, Executive Director of the San Diego Gun Owners PAC, believes the new law will lead criminals to conspire or team up with people out of state to supply bullets for their guns. This could result in more guns and crime in California, but the Safety for All Act of 2016 still seeks to prevent this from happening. 

The Safety for All Act of 2016

The Proposition, known as the Safety for All Act of 2016, will:

  • Keep guns and ammunition out of the hands of those prohibited by law from possessing them;
  • Require background checks for ammunition;
  • Ensure vendors report lost or missing ammunition;
  • Make sure the state shares information with federal agencies concerning who cannot have guns;
  • Report lost or stolen guns to the police;
  • Require people to give up their firearms when convicted;
  • Ban military-style ammunition magazines; and
  • Take guns out of the hands of those who steal them.

Finally, this law also means that those who sell ammo must register for a license to do so. This law now makes the sale of ammo and magazines similar to the regulation of gun sales.

No, You Cannot Buy Ammo Outside of California and Bring it Back

Citizens of California cannot buy ammo out of state and bring it back. In an article from 10 News San Diego Mr. Schwartz states, “If you’re Californian, and you go out of state to get ammunition and bring it back into the State of California, you’ve just broken the law. But if you live in another state, you can bring as much ammunition as you want into the state and give it to anybody in California that you like.”

Proposition 63 Divides Californians

As you know, those who oppose Proposition 63 and those in favor of the law stand on opposite sides of the fence and are in a constant battle when it comes to California’s regulations of guns and ammo. Some argue the law will fuel an underground market for criminals. Others, like Ron Markus, the spokesperson for San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, say the law will provide more checks and balances so the state has a better idea of to whom ammo is sold. 

Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, if you find yourself in a violent crime situation involving a firearm, you need a qualified criminal lawyer to protect your freedom.  Continue reading

In the saga of the Bundy wildlife refuge occupation, Federal prosecutors in Oregon filed a trial brief outlining their case against the occupiers. Prosecutors noted that that evidence teams recovered more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition. Defendants have claimed they were exercising their first amendment rights, but government prosecutors have rejected these defenses.  They note that “Taking a gun into a government office is not First Amendment protected activity.”

The Rights Enumerated in the Bill of Rights are Not Unlimited

The first 10 amendments in the U.S. Constitution is also called the “Bill of Rights.” But constitutional rights are not absolute, and do not automatically have a legal defense for a crime by simply citing a constitutional right.  In fact there are plenty of restrictions that have been imposed on other rights by the Supreme Court.    

The First Amendment prohibits the impediment of the free exercise of religion, speech, press, the right to peaceably assemble or the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.  Specifically, it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

However, the Supreme Court over the years has placed many restrictions on these rights. You are free to exercise your religion for example, but not if it involves human and animal sacrifice.  One’s free speech may also not be protected if it falsely defames someone’s reputation, incites violence, threatens someone, reveals a trade or military secret and threatens national security, or if it is deemed to be obscene. When, where, and how speech is expressed is also restricted. The government has put limitations on who can speak, such as students, prisoners, and government employees. It can also restrict your speech if you are blocking a public throughway (ie. street) while doing it. While determining limitations on speech, courts must carefully weigh the value of protecting speech against the countervailing public interests, including public safety.   

The second amendment has been mostly invoked in the gun-rights debate as the “right to bear arms” and has been interpreted to include for the purposes of self defense. It states “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

While the NRA would have you believe otherwise, the second amendment is also limited. You cannot point a loaded gun at someone or use it to threaten them, for example. The case of District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 specified that we have a constitutional right to use firearms for self defense in our private homes. But the opinion did not suggest that right extended to other areas. Continue reading

In the state of Texas, like many other states, police are saying that more crimes are being committed with imitation weapons like BB guns because they are made so realistically, are cheaper, and easier to obtain. Fake weapons like BB guns can be bought for as little as $25 and require no background check. Criminals also mistakenly believe that they will avoid harsher sentences if they are caught possessing a fake weapon instead of a real one.

In the county of Arlington, Texas, police have reportedly seen at least half a dozen crimes committed with a BB gun, imitation gun, or airsoft gun instead of a real one. In the most recent case, Arlington PD caught a teenager robbing someone with a fake gun, and the Houston PD says that the use of these fake weapons has risen over the years.

In states like Texas, New Jersey, and even California, if the victim of a crime believes the weapon is real, that is enough to warrant a felony charge as if the weapon were real.

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