ATF: San Bernardino Attackers’ Firearms were Legally Purchased, but Altered and Illegal in California

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California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States. One might assume that these strict gun control laws would mean that we wouldn’t see scary looking firearms used in crimes, but one would be dead wrong. The ATF has finished their work on the firearms recovered from the San Bernardino shooting (pictured above), and the results are what we’ve been suspecting all along: the firearms were purchased legally in the state of California, but subsequently modified to be illegal “assault weapons” and even possibly a machine gun (illegal in all 50 states).

From the Wall Street Journal:

The two semiautomatic rifles were versions of the popular AR-15 model, according to San Bernardino officials. One was made by DPMS Inc., and the other by Smith & Wesson.

While they were originally sold legally, with magazine locking devices commonly known as bullet buttons, the rifles were subsequently altered in different ways to make them more powerful, according to Meredith Davis, a special agent with the ATF.

The Smith & Wesson rifle was changed in an attempt to enable it fire in fully automatic mode, while the DPMS weapon was modified to use a large-capacity magazine, she said.

Those alterations made the weapons unlawful under California’s ban on assault weapons, which bans guns with magazines that can detach for quick reloading.

Go figure. Criminals broke the law and created “assault weapons” despite the numerous laws against it. In other news, water is still wet.

What is particularly interesting is that it sounds like one of the guns had been attempted to be converted to fire fully automatic. From the pictures it doesn’t look like the necessary third hole is present in the trigger pack for a full auto trigger group to fit or even a bumpfire stock installed, so that probably means a “lightning link” or something similar was used. Designs for these kinds of things are readily available on the internet, and while properly registered pre-1986 machine guns are perfectly legal there isn’t a single state in the Union that wouldn’t throw the book at you for making your own machine gun. Another state (and Federal) gun control law that was completely ignored.

As for those clamoring to close the “gun show loophole” as a result of this attack, the following sentence might be useful:

The purchases of the two rifles and two handguns carried by the two suspects in the shootings all passed the background checks required by federal law, according to Ms. Davis.

 

Democrats had already started their anti-gun propaganda machine before the bodies were even cold. My belief is that we shouldn’t start proposing solutions until we actually know all the facts and can pinpoint how to stop this from happening in the future. It looks like these guns DID NOT originate in Arizona or Nevada (as the Huffington Post would have you believe). These guns came from within California, following California’s gun laws through purchase, and California’s massively strict gun control laws failed to stop the attackers from carrying out their plan. Some might think that this indicates the futility of California’s laws, but I get the feeling that Dianne Feinstein isn’t one of them.

comments

  1. avatar ralph humphrey says:

    The HuffPo just can’t win for losing can it!!!

    “Huffington Post Blames Nevada and Arizona for California Terrorist Attack”

    1. avatar TTACer says:

      So the “lax gun laws” in the neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon had nothing to do with it?

      1. avatar Xanderbach says:

        Yet, here I am in AZ, with no real crime. Odd how that works.

        1. avatar TTACer says:

          Indiana and Wisconsin vs. Illinois; Md and DC (and NY and NJ) vs. Virginia. Somehow the state(s) with the “lax” gun laws that are supposedly the source of the guns used in crimes in the states with the A+ (from Brady) gun laws have much lower crime rates. Uncanny really.

      2. avatar Divemedic says:

        If the guns had been bought in one of those states, then they would not have had the California compliant features. This means that the laws of the neighboring states had nothing to do with this.

  2. avatar Shire-man says:

    I guess that’s the last nail in the coffin for this one.

    It was terrorism.
    They passed a background check.
    The rifles were AWB compliant.
    They weren’t on the “terror watchlist.”

    The networks now have to find other topics for the Sunday news shows. Probably just ignore every detail of this incident and run with generic “we need gun control because” pundits.

    It’s funny how they just don’t know what to do other than revert back to base anti-gun training. This is a wholly new situation for them (terrorism on the home turf) and they’re lost and confused spinning like tops blaming the NRA, white people, Republicans, Libertarians, Christmas, whatever they can find on their chart of known enemies.

    1. avatar Bobiojimbo says:

      Easy to blame someone/thing than actually, actively doing something constructive. Then again, I wouldn’t have it any other way – guilty until proven innocent applies to all, even these suspects.

    2. avatar Bob says:

      “They weren’t on the “terror watchlist.””

      Whatz? Impossibles. The goverment tellz me der list is arssome and bestest. All hail terror list!!

      If we keep pointing out their laws don’t work, the only thing that will be left is confiscation.

      1. avatar Five says:

        Jamaica did that, didn’t work. They went from a murder rate less than the US to a murder rate 10 times that of the US:

        http://www.ammoland.com/2015/12/jamaica-draconian-gun-laws-and-murder-rates/#axzz3tNeFnLOr

        Australia is still in process, but first indications are (violent crime up) that’s not working so well either.

      2. avatar Shire-man says:

        Yup. At least then they can stop pretending they don’t want our guns and Fudds can stop enabling them.
        Half measures bore me. They should just embrace their totalitarian ways and go all out.

    3. avatar Steve says:

      This is just going to get them started. Already I’ve seen the gun grabbing types, when confronted with the reality that the laws they push didn’t work, l jump straight to confiscation and banning of semiautomatics. The restrictions obviously didn’t work, so they’re escalating rather than critically analyzing the situation.

      Thankfully, a semiauto ban is likely unconstitutional, but the real goal (confiscation) is becoming even more apparent.

  3. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    Well obviously they are going to pass another law or laws in CA banning more semi autos. Bullet button AR’s will probably be banned. Maybe they’ll ban these 2 rifle models by name, because feelz.

    Pay no attention to ask the failed gun control laws in CA… the trust in the almighty State must continue!

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      Maybe they should ban bullet buttons again. You know, make them super duper illegal.

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        The “bullet button” needs to be on the left side of the magazine well and it should be operated by the use of a .9mm (metric) Torx screwdriver and require a minimum of 7 1/2 counter-clockwise turns of the screw to release the magazine and exactly 7 1/2 clockwise turns to affix the new magazine before the trigger group will operate. Eight clockwise turns will cause the magazine catch to slip and the magazine to fall to the ground, requiring you to start over with the 7 1/2 turn counter-clockwise reset.

        Oops! Did I just give the California legislature an idea?

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      Two things. Current Senate President “Ghost Gun” De Leon, along with (former) Senator Yee proposed a bill (prior to Yee’s arrest) that would ban the Bullet Button, these senators arguing (incorrectly, but this is politics) that the intent of the California Assault Weapons Ban was to eliminate all “Evil Black Rifles” in the state, so they figured that by banning the most effective work-around to the law, the BB, they would accomplish what the law (supposedly) set out to do. Yee’s arrest led to the quiet withdrawal of that bill, but the idea behind it burns bright in DeLeon’s memory.

      Back to politics. Since DeLeon is a potential challenger to his bid for the Governor’s chair, current LT. Governor Gavin Newsome tried to steal DeLeon’s thunder by proposing a ballot initiative that is a revival of DeLeon’s bill. Apparently DeLeon wan unamused by this antic, and cut Newsome’s staff funding, with the intent of putting the kibosh on the initiative by limiting the resources necessary to go out and gather signatures to qualify it for the ballot. But even if he succeeds, the bill will be reproposed once Governor Brown leaves office, and after the San Bernardino massacre, I fear that the South will vote overwhelmingly for its passage.

      1. avatar Mr. AR-10 says:

        This sounds like news from The Onion, and then I realize you are entirely serious.

        These are the idiots in charge of things…. and they keep on getting elected

        Is there something in the water out there?

        1. avatar Berry says:

          No nothing in the water, but in 2012 theere were 133 people living off government checks for every 100 tax payers working in the private sector. Here in 2015, the numbers have to be far worse. The “takers” will never vote the “givers” out of office as long as there are tax payers to bleed. Unfortunately, those givers are the same ones who come up with all the gun control laws and the takers go along with everything they say.

        2. avatar CarlosT says:

          It’s democracy taken to the extreme. Californian voters can vote on everything and anything through the initiative process. It’s stupidly easy to get things on the ballot. The problem is initiatives are great for passing stuff that sounds great if you don’t think about it too much, but not great for things like considerations of Constitutional rights or possible unintended consequences. So a lot of stupid crap becomes law that way.

      2. avatar Heartland Patriot says:

        And that sort of Democrat leftwinger crook politician bullmanure is why my family and I packed up and left as soon as my final commitment to Uncle Sam had expired. Beautiful place, but too many nuts and flakes.

    3. avatar ThomasR says:

      Yep. If the original law didn’t work, it was because it wasn’t strict enough.

      One definition if insanity is to keep repeating what didn’t work, and expect a different result.

      Liberalism/statism, if not outright insanity, definitely a mental disorder.

  4. avatar Bob says:

    Ban terrorists, not guns!

    1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

      It is a hard heart that kills. So you just need to remove those.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        . . . or get one.

    2. avatar Scott Ehlert says:

      How do you ban terrorists? You can’t ban ideas.

      1. avatar COtto says:

        you make a sign and post it on the door?

      2. avatar COtto says:

        create a sign and post it on the door? Seems to be working out really well with those GFZ’s

    3. avatar Xanderbach says:

      I say, make murder illegal. Why attack the weapon, when you can ban the result?

      Wait, murder is already illegal? What about bombs? Already illegal? What about “assault rifles”? Already illegal? Must be AZ’s fault. If you make things more illegaler, then crime will stop. Stop, I say!

  5. avatar Sexual Tyrannosaurus says:

    Save the effort and join the cops, get a special carve-out. Pro-tip: the psychological evaluation actually looks for mental defects to assure smooth dispensation of violence on behalf of politicians.

  6. avatar Mr. AR-10 says:

    “Illegally Altered and Illegal in California”.

    Sorry, I am not buying that one for a second. That’s illegal.

    Can’t happen.

  7. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    Are those bipod grips? They imagined that they’d be making some carefully aimed shots from the prone?

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Not to mention the expensive optics on the upper rails when both rifles already had iron sights. Walking through a Gun Free Zone clearing rooms and hallways doesn’t seem like you’re really going to need an ACOG or an Aimpoint.

  8. avatar Mark N. says:

    Who is this ATF special agent, and what expertise does she have in firearms? There is no modification necessary to a California compliant lower for it to accept 30 round magazines–other than popping one in, as it is the Bullet Button that “fixes” a magazine for the purpose of the California assault weapons ban. [California law requires that a magazine must be fixed so that it requires a tool for its removal. When originally passed, compliant rifles had internal 8 round mags that could only be reloaded by popping the rear pin and opening it up. The bullet button simply replaces the magazine release button so that you cannot operate it with a finger, but must stick a tool in it to release the mag–the tool of choice being the tip of a bullet.] There was a proposed law that would require disassembly of the action to reload, but that bill failed.

    Maybe I should forgive her–she is a fed, not a state agent, and is probably not familiar with the (ridiculous) intricacies of the California gun laws.

    1. avatar Mr. AR-10 says:

      They were trying to install 30 caliber magazine clips, but they didn’t have a ghost gun and it didn’t work.

  9. avatar Vv ind says:

    There’s a shoulder thingy that goes up on there

  10. avatar Red In Texas says:

    While they were originally sold legally, with magazine locking devices commonly known as bullet buttons, the rifles were subsequently altered in different ways to make them more powerful, according to Meredith Davis, a special agent with the ATF.

    Definitely a “special” agent.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Same as in “special ed”?

      Sounds more like an over-zealous reporter misquoting what they were told so it more closely fit their editor’s agenda.

  11. avatar PNG says:

    I have the non-Kalistani version of that M&P-15T. I was creeped or for a second then I recalled that it wasn’t mine and mine is incapable of killing people on its own.

  12. avatar Don says:

    So the bad guys constructed whatever kind of weapons they wanted without regard to legality? BAN KNOWLEDGE!

    1. avatar ShaunL. says:

      They also did it with tools and hands so we need to ban those too!!!!

      For the children, of course.

  13. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    I feel much sorrow for the unfortunate denizens of Kaliforniastsan. Are those evil black rifles an ordinary S&W sport and an Oracle? Anyone identify the handguns?

    1. avatar George says:

      It’s not a Sport, has the forward assist and a dust cover. I believe they said it was a 15T but could be the 15OR. The pistol on the right looks like a S&W SD9 I believe. I don’t recognize the othe handgun.

      They are making a big deal about the “modifications” like the grip and optics. But most, if not all of the gear on those rifles looks pretty low quality. Can’t really see the optics to tell.

      1. avatar Geo says:

        Actually not a SD9. The trigger guard is round on those. Maybe a Walther PPX?

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      One pistol appears to be a S&W SD9VE, and they said the other was a Llama, so it’s probably a 9mm 1911.

      1. avatar Geo says:

        I thought SD9 as well, but unless they changed it, the trigger guard on the SD9 is rounded, unlike the one pictured, which is squared off similar to a Glock or Walther trigger guard.

        1. avatar Stinkeye says:

          You’re right. Maybe an XD? Definitely not a PPX.

    3. avatar Julio says:

      From an article late yesterday, both pistols were 9mm: a Llama and an S&W. I couldn’t zoom in enough to ID.
      Officials said the two assault rifles were variants of the AR-15, the semiautomatic version of the military M-16 rifle; one was made by DPMS Panther Arms, and the other was a Smith & Wesson M&P model, a designation meaning military and police. The senior law enforcement official said one handgun was made by Llama, and the other by Smith & Wesson.
      http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fbi-treats-san-bernardino-attack-as-possible-terrorism-case/ar-AAfYDHC

  14. avatar Tim says:

    “…the rifles were subsequently altered in different ways to make them more powerful, according to Meredith Davis, a special agent with the ATF.”

    Holy crap! They figured out a way to give a .223 the performance of a 30.06?!? If JM Browning were alive today he’d be jealous as hell!

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      No wonder she is a “special” agent.
      So much ignorance or outright lying with that statement.

    2. avatar Ted says:

      Does a larger magazine make a weapon more powerful?

      Possibly depending on your definition of “powerful”.

  15. avatar Rokurota says:

    Those handguns don’t look like a Llama and a Smith & Wesson, as reported earlier. Come on, people.

  16. avatar Pasifikawv says:

    Waitaminute…. An acquaintance bought the rifles for the terrorists? That is an illegal “straw purchase” and a serious violation of federal law. Moreover, California has “universal registration” that makes private transactions between acquaintances illegal. Every sale or transfer must go thru a Federal dealer, include a background check, and requires a 10-day waiting period. This was not the case. The terrorist did NOT acquire the rifles legally.

    1. avatar Five says:

      Legally bought, illegally in possession of, illegally modified. I say, the terrorists seem to have no respect for the law.

      At least the pipe for the pipe bombs was bought legally…..

  17. avatar Red In Texas says:

    From the pictures it doesn’t look like the necessary third hole is present in the trigger pack for a full auto trigger group to fit or even a bumpfire stock installed, so that probably means a “lightning link” or something similar was used.

    Maybe a shoestring??? 😀 😀 😀

  18. avatar Scott Ehlert says:

    I was reading about gun control laws in different countries and in Serbia (IIRC, please correct if wrong) they have graduated ownership laws i.e.; must own a shotgun for 5 years before you can purchase a rifle.

    Could something of that nature work here to help prevent these types of shootings? Tapping into 3rd party, independent organizations (NRA, Boy Scouts, Ducks Unlimited, etc.) to approve shooters and collectors for ownership of different “tiers” of weapons?

    If all of these guns were purchased legally then it’s further proof that current laws as they stand don’t work. A different approach is necessary, but one that doesn’t negate the 2nd and tiers approved by educated, well-trained and impartial instructors could possibly work.

  19. avatar Libertarian says:

    NFA stand for NFA Is NOT Okay and No Firearm Allowed …………

  20. Finally the FBI just said it was an act of terrorism. Bout time.

  21. avatar Jason says:

    “the rifles were subsequently altered in different ways to make them more powerful, according to Meredith Davis, a special agent with the ATF” and “the DPMS weapon was modified to use a large-capacity magazine, she said.” The ATF can’t even produce a person who actually understands firearms. Where do these idiots come from?

    1. avatar Geo says:

      It is actually disturbing. You would think the spokesperson for the ATF put up after a terrorist attack would know their stuff.

    2. avatar Billy-bob says:

      Government schools?

    3. avatar foo dog says:

      Meredith, the female ATF agent was pontificating on herself as a woman, wondering why the wife would be a terrorist, knowing what she knows about guns, as a woman, etc, etc. Another example of narcissistic all knowing representative of the federal government, here to look after the Little People, I suppose.

      You might be forgiven for concluding that the PR hack, oops I mean spokesperson job is the place you put your token hires so when they shoot themselves in the foot, metaphorically- in their words,

      at least they wont shoot themselves in the foot, on the street, or worse, shoot another agent with a real gun.
      This is not the person I’d want at my back going through a door.

  22. avatar RenegadeDave says:

    looks like a Llama and a Springfield XD Service 4″ in a bi-tone finish with a Hogue handall wrap effectively pinning the grip safety.

    1. avatar troutbum5 says:

      Definitely an XD.

  23. avatar foo dog says:

    So, what the news media is saying but failing to grasp is that the guns were legal,
    but ILLEGALLY MODIFIED by the person.

    Yet the answer is to target the weapon, again,
    rather than target the person who did the crime.

    Why, its almost as if the government doesnt want the LIVs to realize that gun control doesnt work.

    In other news- its apparent that the wife may not have been using her real name in her immigration records:
    http://shoebat.com/2015/12/03/88800/

  24. avatar Shaz H. says:

    How dumb can Americans get? Here we are!
    Its the curropt American Govt.
    If you don’t know by now, you’re truly stupid….or an American. ITS THE SAME!

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