The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 12, 2013

California government raiders seize guns owners have lost right to bear

(Continued)

WASHIGTON —

Todd Smith, chief executive officer of Aurora Charter Oak Hospital in Covina, where documents provided by Phillips show she was treated, didn't respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment on the circumstances of the treatment.

Phillips said her husband used the guns for recreation. She didn't blame the attorney general's agents for taking the guns based on the information they had, she said.

"I do feel I have every right to purchase a gun," Phillips said. "I'm not a threat. We're law-abiding citizens."

No one was arrested. Most seized weapons are destroyed, Gregory said.

"It's not unusual to not arrest a mental-health person because every county in the state handles those particular cases differently," Gregory said by e-mail. "Unless there's an extenuating need to arrest them on the spot, we refer the case" to the local district attorney's office, she said.

Agents more often arrest convicted felons who are prohibited from buying, receiving, owning or possessing a firearm, Gregory said. Violation of the ban is itself a felony.

The state Senate agreed March 7 to expand the seizure program using $24 million in surplus funds from fees that gun dealers charge buyers for background checks.

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, a gun lobby based in Fairfax, Va., that says it has more than 4 million individuals as members, didn't respond to a request for comment on the program.

Sam Paredes, executive director of the Folsom-based advocacy group Gun Owners of California, praised the program, though not how it is funded.

"We think that crime control instead of gun control is absolutely the way to go," he said. "The issue we have is funding this program only from resources from law-abiding gun purchasers. This program has a benefit to the entire public and therefore the entire public should be paying through general- fund expenditures, and not just legal gun owners."

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