With SB 249 still looming in the distance, (technically) at least until Saturday, I wanted to get ahead of the game and ordered a Spikes Tactical AR lower. I dutifully paid for it in full and filled out my forms. I figured great, I should get this bad boy in about ten days – yeah me! Then I received a call a couple of days later from my LGS to inform me I’d been denied. WTF? But I remained polite and he gave me the phone number for the California DOG to get the skinny on why I was blackballed . . .

Taking a quick personal inventory, I know I don’t have any warrants for felonies, no convictions, not even a restraining order. I’ve never been arrested or even detained. I hold a now inactive top secret clearance from the US government, so what could be the issue?

Then a moment of panic set in where I wondered if a SWAT team was going to show up at my house in the middle of the night. Besides being totally embarrassed by having to discuss the situation with my LGS rep, more than anything else I wanted to know what the hell the problem was.

So I rang up the California DOJ and against all odds the disembodied voice was actually very nice. After querying their UNIVAC, she told me the DMV had rejected my driver’s license. So they never actually performed the NICS check and simply denied the app at that point.

She was nice enough to give me the DMV phone number, which they are not required to do, so I punched their digits next. Naturally, the wait was so long that I had to leave my number, but at least I had a sense of relief in that the problem was a local DMV issue and not something that might lead to actual incarceration.

When I finally got a call back, the DMV drone said I had an unpaid speeding ticket with a failure to appear. I knew about that already and let them know I had moved so missed the first court date. But I’d contacted the court right away and scheduled a second appointment. I asked him if his system showed that, as I didn’t want to get into any, you know, trouble. After all, I need to – at a minimum – be able to legally drive myself to the court house.

He said that once I take care of the court date I can get my record cleared for $55.00 my friendly neighborhood DMV office, then resubmit the DROS. I asked him why, since I had responded to the court. I also asked him what their policy was and whether this applies to parking tickets in addition to moving violations.

He managed to mumble something like “yeah”, became quite rude and said I needed to contact the DOJ. I told him they’d referred me to him, and that’s when he sighed, repeated the direction to call the DOJ and hung up on me.

You cam probably imagine how (insert various loud expletives here) happy I was at that point, but I called my LSG and gave them the lowdown. He’s cool with holding the lower as long as I need to get this resolved. It is, after all, paid in full at this point.

In the mean time, I’ve done some research as to why, what and how all this came about. The fact is my record is clean, I am not under suspicion of any crime and I have not been recently released from a psychological hold at any facility. But there’s that speeding ticket. Not an accident or DUI, just a speed trap that I was caught in along with about five cars. I even checked the denial listing for the California DOJ, but suspended licenses and traffic infractions aren’t listed there.

But wait there is more!

It appears that from the standpoint of the DMV, any unpaid infraction – whether parking tickets, speeding tickets, whatever – is reason enough to deny your RKBA in the Golden State. Needless to say, I’m refusing to wait for the DMV to get their computers back online (their ENIAC was down yesterday, imagine that). But I had a stroke of genius – I’ll simply apply for a California state-issued ID card. It’s not illegal and will allow the processing of my NICS check which is all I really care about. I also have a valid US passport so I have that option in my back pocket, too.

Yes, it’s my fault for not getting to court on time for my speeding ticket. I admit that, but should that mean I have no right to make a firearms purchase? I’ve followed up with the court and will go before the judge to grovel and beg for mercy at the appointed time.

I’m not a criminal and haven’t been convicted or even charged with any prohibiting offense so why should it matter what my driving status is? They have my social security number, so there’s no reason why a NICS check can’t go forward. I have a bank card and a utility bill to prove I am who I say I am.

I don’t need a photo ID to vote in this country, but to exercise my inalienable right to purchase and own a firearm, I have to make sure all those tickets are paid off. Just one more hurdle we have to go through here on the left coast.

50 Responses to Epic Fail: Trying to Buy a Gun (Part) in California

  1. Time to move out of the Communist Republic of California and go to AZ. I know its nice and pretty there but we have better gun laws here and you dont have to go through all that crap.

  2. That is interesting but not uncommon when it comes to driver’s license. A coworker had an incident on the highway many years ago. He and some friends were coming back from Rocky Point (Mexico). Somewhere on the U.S. side they stopped and for some reason got into a fight with some other U.S. partiers along the highway. My fellow coworker beat one of the guys up. Then he left. The police showed up and I guess one of his buddies ratted him out. He was contacted that he had to pay for the hospital medical bills. He ignored the whole thing. He never received a ticket or was aressted for the incident. A few months passed and he received a letter from the DMV (Arizona) that his license were going to be revoked if he didn’t pay the hospital bill and legal fees. It doesn’t make sense does it?

    • A driver’s license is a privilege, and can be revoked if you are uncomplint with other laws, like child support obligations. They go after professional licenses for some things as well.

      The other factor here is the Atty Genreal Kamela Harris. Under her command, the DOJ has apparently adopted a policy that a denial or delay will occur for just about any reason whatsoever. One story I read was that a guy got held up on his purchase because he had a prior misdemeanor ARREST, and the DOJ couldn’t tell if it wa for a violent misdemeanor, or its resolution. The BS thing is that there was no copnviction of record, and a misdemeanor arrest is not a disqualifying event. Only convictions are relevant. So it was a pretty thin excuse to deny someone–who had recently purchased other firearms–to obtain a handgun. Since she is an elected official, we are stuck with her for some time to come.

      • It’s technically a privilege if you consent to it. The problem is that we’re tricked (maybe even coerced?) in to consenting to the state’s jurisdiction with regards to driving. We all have the natural right to travel, which includes inside of a car.

        The only reason you technically need a license is if you’re conducting commerce or work for the government. This is all backed up in court case history and federal/state law, not to mention the… oh what is it called… CONSTITUTION (you know, that thing we don’t use anymore?)

    • No government agency can simply order you to pay someone else’s bills. That can only be ordered by a judge, at the end of a civil or criminal case in which you have been afforded full due process of law. Period.

      Something about that story doesn’t gel, and there must be much more there than he told you, or you told us.

      • No, that is pretty much it. He beat the guy up on the side of the road. He took off and when the police showed up his buddies turned him in. He was contacted by the guy’s attorney. He ignored all the correspondence from the attorney. He figured they couldn’t do anything about it. Maybe they had a hearing in which he ignored. But when he received the letter from the DMV he decided to pay up. As I understand it the DMV got involved because it was in their jurisdiction.

        • “Maybe they had a hearing in which he ignored.”

          Bingo. Sounds like the other guy got a default judgment against your co-worker. Ignoring letters from attorneys is dumb.

        • Back when I was in my twenties I was pulled over by the home town police. It seems my driver’s license was revolted. I was driving on a suspended license. I didn’t know anything about. I was given a ticket (but not arrested) and was told to go home. I called the DMV the next day to find out why. I had received multiple tickets for driving without my eyeglasses (restriction). So they pulled my license. I asked for a hearing but it was too late since I was already three months into my six month suspension. I told the DMV it wasn’t my fault and if I’d known about it I would have done the right thing. I was told that all the DMV is required to do is mail the letter of suspension. Whether we receive it or not is not their problem. I continued to protest and was then told do I want six more months. I shut the hell up. It wasn’t worth the time or money to fight it.

          My co-worker who had to pay the medical fees for beating a guy up on the side of the road may have gone through the same type of situation. The letter for his appearance at a hearing might have come from the DMV. Either he didn’t receive it or just ignored it. The guy’s attorney used the DMV system to force my co-worker to pay if he wanted to keep his driver’s license. I don’t how it was done but it worked.

        • Odd. a hearing, without the accused present? Without due notice of said hearing? I guess it’s possible one was sent by the lawyer, and was promptly ignored. But at the same time, those things usually require signature delivery.

  3. Love the ENIAC comment. CA DMV probably does still run one.

    As a previous CA resident (now TX) I feel your pain. It is so much easier to get a gun here.

    • My wife thinks Nick is cute, lol she wants to move near there hahaha
      There are so many things wrong with this state it isn’t even funny.

  4. Sanchanim, when a state is broke and hoplophobic, anything can happen. CA wants your money and doesn’t want you or anyone else to have a gun. So an unpaid ticket is a double opportunity for CA to screw a citizen.

    I’m sorry that the guy who got screwed was you. But think about the poor dolts in New York City who will be denied a target permit because of an unpaid parking ticket.

  5. So “nice” (sarcasm) for you.. if you want to move to Indiana I’m sure we can help you out. It was even here a big long wait to get our FFL and then the Class 3 in addition many many years ago. We were very lucky and privileged to get help from other licensed dealers and the local law enforcement departments.

  6. You might want to double check that option to get a state issued ID card. I tried to get one in WA, and they said they would be happy to. All I would need to do is turn in my state issued driver’s license so that it could be destroyed and then they could start the process. Apparently WA only allows one state issued ID at a time.

  7. Sanchanim:

    Been there, done that brother. As a Type 1 Diabetic, my license is pulled for a medical review every 2 years where I conduct an over-the-phone interview and then a behind-the-wheel test to get my license back. How is this related, you ask? The day the DMV office sends out my letter informing me I’m under review, my license is suspended in their computer system. That means my license is already suspended 2-3 days before I get the written notice in my PO Box.

    I happened to have perfect timing and start a DROS and the next day I got the letter from the DMV- and a phone call saying I was denied from my LGS… After speaking with DMV and DoJ, I came to this conclusion: Get a CA ID card. It cannot be suspended or pulled like a license can and only has to be renewed every 5 years. As such, I use my CA ID to only purchase firearms, that is the sole purpose for having it, so at no time will DL bullshit interfere with my 2A. The DL and ID are two different boxes to check on the 4473 so even if you don’t have a valid license, the ID card is unaffected.

    PLUS: You can use a different address on the ID card than the one on your license; I have a PO Box, but have street address on ID card so no issues there as well.

    Good luck.

      • Seriously, I have a few family friends that are either sheriff’s deputies or CHP and asked them what can be done to lose a state ID/have it revoked and the only answers were: “Either you get residency in a new state and it is superseded by your new DL/ID or you don’t renew it.”

        Barring any criminal acts or moving or failure to renew, it cannot be revoked or lost.

    • Off topic, but related — does anyone in any other state than NJ know if your DMV codes your birthdate into your Driver License number?
      In NJ, the last 5 digits are: MMYYW, or month,
      year of birth, and week of the month in which your birthday occurs.
      e.g. birthday of July 4th, 1966 = 07661, May 24, 1970 = 05704

      • I got my first DL in the Province of Quebec, and at that time, my DOB was encoded into the DL number e.g. GNNNNddmmyy.. so you’re not alone.

        • Thank you for the info. The feds say you can’t be discriminated against because of age when applying for a job, but there are “cutsie” ways to have you reveal your age to a prospective employer. One is your H. S. or College graduation date, another (in NJ and Quebec at least) is to provide your DL #.

    • That’s a surprise. My wife is a Type I diabetic, but she never had any issues with her California DL renewals. In the 14 years (’97 – ’11) that she drove in CA after diagnosis, she always filled out the renewal form accurately and completely but was never subject to any reviews or behind-the-wheel tests.

      • I believe the policy started in 2005. I got my license in 2006/7. I believe I may also be an exception to the ‘no review’ rule as I did have one seizure as a result from the diabetes. I know Diabetes and Loss of Consciousness are two categories that will flag someone for the review, but if your wife has not had any issue, she probably isn’t flagged.

    • As a Type 1 Diabetic, my license is pulled for a medical review every 2 years …

      Wait, what?

      How does State Farm treat you?

      • My insurance is is currently State Farm; during the first review, it was Allied. Neither company has had any issue with the reviews as far as car insurance goes. The diabetes is noted on my insurance but I don’t believe that it has affected either my rates or coverage in any way. To be honest, I’ve been a diabetic since I was 8, so all of my car insurance policies have known I am a diabetic. If it affected things, I would be unable to see a difference anyways.

        The reviews take about 2 weeks at the very most; I’ve gotten lucky and either worked close enough to walk or bike or have been at school and not had a car anyways. You get priority for the behind-the-wheel tests so you don’t get completely swamped in the red tape hell of the DMV, but it is a major hassle. Essentially this is how the reviews go:
        1) Notice of Review and paperwork for doctors is received
        2)Have the Doctor (Endocrinologist or Neurologist depending on who is in town/less busy) fill out the paperwork for DMV and they send it in.
        3)Get a call from the DMV to set up phone interview, usually 1-2 days from the initial call.
        4)Conduct phone interview; await call for results.
        5)Results phoned in; if you are ok, then you schedule behind-the-wheel test. If you fail, then you are told to expect paperwork in 2-4 business days with the reason and procedure for appeal.
        6)Take the behind-the-wheel test; if you pass, license ‘suspended’ status is removed by the next day and you continue on. If you need to appeal, you fill out the paperwork and wait for a phone call from a DMV higher-up to hear your appeal. You are then informed a written decision will be sent to you in 3-5 business days.

        I am fairly lucky as I am in Wine Country and the DMV Regional Driver Safety Office (or whatever it’s called) is in SF so all written correspondence takes two days at most.

        I have had to do the appeals process once; the case officer that did my interview had no grasp of diabetes and how seizures can be related to it, she was very short, and did not understand my situation. Went through the appeals process, stated my case, and asked that the phone call be reviewed as well. I also stated that I would hold the case officer responsible and her higher-ups responsible for lost wages and legal fees as the office is supposed to assign a case officer with pertinent knowledge of your disease/affliction/disability. Mention a lawyer and a bad employee and the DMV gets their shit together really quickly.

      • I’ve had both Allied and State Farm for auto insurance and have been a diabetic since I was 8; both companies know I am diabetic, but I don’t know if they can use that to affect my coverage and rates.

        The DMV just puts my license on a ‘suspended’ status and removes it after the paperwork/review are completed. A suspended license comes up as an invalid form of ID for DROS/NICS. Thus the use of a CA State ID card.

  8. Too bad the State of California doesn’t put some of that creativity into balancing their budget instead of finding creative reasons to deny a firearm purchase.

  9. I had a similar situation happen here in Missouri when I took my Concealed Carry class. After passing the class and submitting the paperwork to the local Sheriff’s Department, I got a certified letter two weeks later that told me they were unable to approve my application because I was a fugitive from justice. I called them immediately and asked what was going on. They replied that I had an outstanding traffic ticket from 2001 that had never been resolved. 2001. Isn’t there a statute of limitations or something? Never mind the fact that I don’t actually remember getting a ticket. Sooooo, I go in front of the judge, and the clerks are unable to produce and hard copy of the ticket, just incomplete information in the computer. After making my case to the jusge, he finally decieded to throw everything out and expunge this from my record. I took the paperwork from the judge straight to the courthouse, and got my permit immediately, before something else innocuous showed up.

  10. Dude you couldve saved yourself the time and hassle and bought an 80% lower from Ares Armor/ tactical machining , a lower parts kit, stock kit and had a complete lower machined out and assembled with much less hassle for maaaybe $50 bucks more….Just sayin.

  11. California —- the most beautiful part of the country, wasted on the most perverted part of the country’s population.

  12. My husband is on the same boat waited 10 days for the gun he just got went to the store and they told him he can’t get the gun because he is a felon! We got the letter in the mail today saying he ignored a ticket and court date which is so pathetic!

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