The State Laid Bare
Last week the California Department of Justice put a little missive on the DES website’s login page. (The DES is for California gun dealers to initiate the DROS process for someone to be able to legally take possession of a firearm.) It reads as follows:
Under Penal Code section 28220(f)(4), the Department of Justice (DOJ) has up to 30 days to complete background checks on firearms purchasers. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, DOJ typically completed these checks within Penal Code Section 26815(a)’s ten-day waiting period. COVID-19 protective measures have impacted the ability to increase the personnel resources in the DROS unit to address the recent sustained increase in firearms and ammunition transactions without compromising the health and safety of our employees and the community. As a result, firearms and ammunition dealers and purchasers should know that as DOJ employees continue to perform the statutorily required background checks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances may compel that background checks are completed after the expiration of the ten-day waiting period for firearms purchases. DOJ will continue to strive to provide the best service and complete these checks in the shortest time possible.
At the time I thought this was interesting, but since all of the guns we were delivering to new gun buyers were being delivered without a problem, I honestly did not pay too much attention to it.
Then we got our first “delay”. Worse… it was not a specifically demarcated “delay”… it would be better to describe it as an “ignore”.
In the past, when someone was flagged, and DOJ felt they needed more time, they would change the notification button on DES to let us know they needed more time. “Pending” would be switched to “Delay”. If everything is good to go (which it is 99% of the time), the “Pending” button switches to “Deliver” immediately after the statutory ten-day period expires.
This particular client has nothing… it just says “pending” even though the ten-day period has run.
While the italicized missive above would suggest a massive amount of bureaucrats tirelessly toiling away at their desks, constantly looking at the calendar to ensure they get their work done during the ten-day period… that is not how it really happens.
In free states they use (as do we) a system called NICS, National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This takes place on the federal level. Customers goes to buy a gun, the dealer runs them through the NICS system, and voila… in ten to 15 minutes, the FBI says yea or nay to their purchase based on their status as a prohibited person. (A denial of a NICS check does have the possibility of appeal.)
California uses the same exact system, except it is just that the State sends the NICS request, not the dealer. When dealers fill out the online form, they are electronically sending a request for Sacramento to check with NICS that the buyer is not prohibited. The FBI gets back to Sacramento in the same ten to 15 minutes. After all… a California resident could very easily become a prohibited person during a drunken weekend in Vegas with his or her domestic partner. California would, theoretically, never know about his or her status change… that is why we rely on a federal data base.
So then… what is the “diligent work” our Mandarines in Sacramento are doing on our behalf that could delay our ability to acquire our firearms pursuant to our fundamental rights to own one???
That answer remains unclear.
Worse, DOJ has acknowledged that the time limit of 30 days to complete the check coincides with another law that states a gun MUST be picked up from the dealer no later than 30 days after the initiation of a DROS. So… it is entirely possible that the DOJ may make a gun available for delivery on the 30th day, and the client cannot make it in that day to pick it up. Their response: Not a problem… just have them start over again, pay another fee, and let’s do it all over.
Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, was being asked in a press conference last week about our strained relationship with the World Health Organization. Without engaging in vitriol, he simply stated that “institutions need to work. If they are not working, they need to be reevaluated.”
We need to look at our DROS system and acknowledge that it is either broken (entirely reasonable)… or that it is being used to promulgate a political agenda (massively unreasonable, and a state policy of denying fundamental civil rights).
This is a binary answer. It is one or the other.
If it is the former, we need to scrap it and bypass the DOJ for a dealer direct interface with the NICS system.
If it is the latter, agents of the State need to be put in jail.