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-   -   The Calguns Foundation Announces Successful Defense of John Contos of Sonoma Firearms (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=139100)

The Calguns Foundation 12-18-2008 6:27 PM

The Calguns Foundation Announces Successful Defense of John Contos of Sonoma Firearms
 

The Calguns Foundation Announces Successful Defense
of John Contos of Sacramento-Based Sonoma Firearms

  • Case based on the incorrect theory that U-15 Stocks are
    “thumbhole” stocks (and/or constitute a pistol grip) is dismissed.


  • Improper prosecution brought by California Department of Justice
    Bureau of Firearms as retribution and regulatory over-reach.


December 18, 2008


(CALGUNS.NET) - Redwood City, CA – The Calguns Foundation (CGF) announces that it has again successfully defended an innocent person charged with violating California’s complex and overbearing firearms laws. The Solano County District Attorney’s office dismissed all charges in an Assault Weapon-related case in People v. Contos. John Contos, the proprietor of Sonoma Firearms, was charged based upon the theory that the California Rifles’ brand “U-15” stock constituted a thumbhole stock (or was in fact a pistol grip) - and was thus a feature triggering Assault Weapon status under California law.


Background: In June 2007, Mr. Contos was contacted by Supervisory Special Agent Ignatius Chinn of the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms in relation to sales of off-list lower receivers for California-legal rifles. According to California law, the serialized “lower receivers” of rifles or pistols that might be considered “Assault Weapons” – and which are not specified by make and model – cannot be considered “Assault Weapons” unless they are specifically listed in California “Assault Weapons” law by make and model. Receivers not listed by make and model are known as “off-list”, and are perfectly legal to sell and possess.

However, even though these receivers are perfectly legal, it is still possible to create an illegal assault weapon by putting the wrong “accessories” on one of these receivers. One such accessory, which is prohibited, except under certain circumstances, is the “thumbhole stock.”

At the Solano County Gun Show in July 2007, Agent Chinn observed that Mr. Contos was selling off-list lower receivers configured with U-15 “butt stocks.” Agent Chinn claimed such stocks were “thumbhole stocks” that could make these receivers into “Assault Weapons” by having certain feature configurations that are prohibited. As there is actually no “hole” in a U-15 stock, this position was at best specious. Later that summer, Agent Chinn obtained and served a warrant based on the “thumbhole stock” theory and seized numerous firearms - including handguns and various rifles having no relationship to this dispute.


The Case: The Calguns Foundation retained the Law Offices of Don Kilmer to defend Mr. Contos. After passage of many months and no prosecution was forthcoming, Mr. Kilmer began the civil process of demanding the return of Mr. Contos’ property. After being stonewalled by the Bureau of Firearms, Mr. Kilmer filed a Tort Claims Act claim for the return of all property as well as compensation for business interruption. Just as the window for a response to the Tort Claims Act claim was to expire, the Bureau of Firearms persuaded a Solano County District Attorney to bring criminal charges (in June 2008), claiming that Mr. Contos was guilty of offering to sell illegal Assault Weapons.

After reviewing the proposed testimony of the State’s expert (Agent Chinn) the Solano County DA had the courage to admit that he could not meet the burden of proving that a U-15-equipped rifle or receiver was an Assault Weapon. With the case’s dismissal, Mr. Contos looks forward to the prompt return of his property. The Foundation was prepared, if necessary, to secure expert testimony from topologists (mathematicians specializing in the fields of surfaces and shapes) relating to the design of the U-15 stock and its not possessing a “thumbhole”.

The Calguns Foundation remains concerned the Bureau of Firearms has shown a pattern of using the criminal courts to extract retribution against adversaries and quash dissent about their overbroad view of the law. Bureau of Firearms has - on multiple occasions - instigated criminal charges as it became clear that they would be required to return property by civil action. Additionally, the Bureau of Firearms continues to attempt to use the criminal courts to expand the regulatory reach of the Assault Weapon laws. This is contrary to California law. This pattern and practice of charging citizens with a crimes for the purpose of exploring the regulatory boundaries of a fundamental right are extremely troubling and may require redress.

CGF offers its congratulations and thanks to John Contos for his support and patience during this arduous process. Mr. Contos has been a strong personal supporter of the Calguns community, even as this process has exacted real costs to him. Thanks also to The Law Offices of Don Kilmer for their excellent work on this case to date.

Also, CGF offers its congratulations to Grant Early, inventor of the California Rifles U-15 stock, upon having it clearly deemed to be neither a thumbhole stock nor a pistol grip.

Please consider a donation to offset the legal fees and other costs that The Calguns Foundation bore in this case - and which it continues to bear in order to defend other cases. Your donations are likely to be tax deductible, as The Calguns Foundation expects to be obtaining 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status. You can donate (at http://calgunsfoundation.org/main/index.php/donate) via check, credit card, homebanking payments, and Paypal.

The Calguns Foundation expects to see this case through to a final and satisfactory conclusion for both Mr. Contos and the California sport shooting community.


Gene Hoffman, Jr.
Chairman, The Calguns Foundation



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( "The Calguns Foundation", "calgunsfoundation.org", all associated
variants and logos are © Copyright and Trademarks of The Calguns
Foundation. 2008, All Rights Reserved. )

QuarterBoreGunner 12-18-2008 6:39 PM

Quote:

The Foundation was prepared, if necessary, to secure expert testimony from topologists
You had me at topologists.

Cash inbound.

sorensen440 12-18-2008 6:43 PM

:party:

VegasND 12-18-2008 7:47 PM

Good news. I hope this continues and that rights in California can be reclaimed.

97F1504RAD 12-18-2008 7:47 PM

Outstanding

Congratulations

artherd 12-18-2008 7:52 PM

Every little victory :) CGF is kicking butt and taking names. And we're just getting started. If you like what you see, please donate!

RRangel 12-18-2008 7:54 PM

Oh! :D

wilit 12-18-2008 7:56 PM

AWESOME!

Bad Voodoo 12-18-2008 8:01 PM

http://blogs.smh.com.au/mashup/images/applause.gif

Saigon1965 12-18-2008 8:02 PM

Well done CGF -

Hans Gruber 12-18-2008 8:05 PM

Outstanding work :)

Backcountry 12-18-2008 8:13 PM

Ignatius Chinn sounds like a real d****ead.

I'm sending $100 to the foundation to stop *******s like him.

383green 12-18-2008 8:21 PM

:clap:

Quote:

The Foundation was prepared, if necessary, to secure expert testimony from topologists (mathematicians specializing in the fields of surfaces and shapes) relating to the design of the U-15 stock and its not possessing a “thumbhole”.
This was my favorite part!

JeffM 12-18-2008 8:28 PM

Love it.


Well done.

anthonyca 12-18-2008 8:31 PM

It seems like everytime I loose hope about gun laws and our politicians the CGF wins a lawsuit or helps someone in need. Good work.

383green 12-18-2008 8:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by anthonyca (Post 1800599)
It seems like everytime I loose hope about gun laws and our politicians the CGF wins a lawsuit or helps someone in need. Good work.

Ever since my first introduction to the OLL movement, my hope about conquering unjust gun laws has been monotonically increasing.

trashman 12-18-2008 8:48 PM

GREAT work Gene, Don, et al! Congratulations on the win. I love what you guys are doing, and I love how you are doing it!

--Neill

Liberty1 12-18-2008 8:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 383green (Post 1800568)
:clap:



This was my favorite part!

No need to pay for "experts". I just showed my wife a U-15 stock and she said, "so where is the hole?". :)

JeffM 12-18-2008 8:56 PM

So... will U-15 stocks now come with a DOJ dis-approval letter? :D

hawk1 12-18-2008 9:05 PM

:King:

otalps 12-18-2008 9:27 PM

Haven't heard anything about Iggy in a while. So this is what he's been up to lately? Taking a break from shooting up desks? :D

Good work, CGF!

ivanimal 12-18-2008 9:30 PM

This one feels extra good, now we must help John get his property back!

rkt88edmo 12-18-2008 9:36 PM

Consider the toroid...

jrsportssupply 12-18-2008 9:42 PM

CGF has accomplished more this year than any other 2A group that I'm aware of. Congrats and expect a check from us!

yellowfin 12-18-2008 9:53 PM

Any punitive damages for DoJerks and Iggy?

artherd 12-18-2008 11:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by yellowfin2 (Post 1800924)
Any punitive damages for DoJerks and Iggy?

Stay tuned to this station ;)

anthonyca 12-18-2008 11:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by artherd (Post 1801148)
Stay tuned to this station ;)

I got a warm and fuzzy feeling just thinking of a lawsuit aginst iggy for punitive damages.

Ford8N 12-19-2008 4:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Liberty1 (Post 1800703)
No need to pay for "experts". I just showed my wife a U-15 stock and she said, "so where is the hole?". :)

Just goes to show you either the level of intelligence or malevolence of the DOJ....or both.

bradph 12-19-2008 5:59 AM

Congratulations!!!!!! Thank you everyone!!! :)

Homer 12-19-2008 6:08 AM

Return Of Property
 
I would like to know if the property taken has ever been returned. You may recall The Stanislaus county case of Sierra Shooting Sports in Modesto. The Madison Society listed me as "Joe Gun Guy", yes we won but had none of our property returned to us. Not only has it not been returned, we have heard nothing from the DOJ.

Toolbox X 12-19-2008 6:47 AM

What can I say except the people who make up the Calguns Foundation are my personal heroes. The NRA should donate to THEM.

These are the guys who protect us, both individually and our remaining freedoms, and they are fighting the battles to get us back the freedoms that have been taken away. Please keep those donations coming.

Thanks for another awesome win guys!

-Grant
Owner of California Rifles

lazyworm 12-19-2008 6:58 AM

Congrats!

Lex Arma 12-19-2008 7:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Homer (Post 1801407)
I would like to know if the property taken has ever been returned. You may recall The Stanislaus county case of Sierra Shooting Sports in Modesto. The Madison Society listed me as "Joe Gun Guy", yes we won but had none of our property returned to us. Not only has it not been returned, we have heard nothing from the DOJ.

Have you made a demand? There is no statute of limitations for wrongfully held personal property.

Ugly Dwarf 12-19-2008 8:27 AM

Congratulations to all involved.

I now feel even more confident using my U-15 stocked OLL.

Another check to CGF on it's way.

Dwarf

oaklander 12-19-2008 8:43 AM

This is just the beginning. There is so much we have in the pipeline. 2009 will be an interesting year!

:D

csmintel 12-19-2008 9:56 AM

how about going further and file criminal charge of domestic law terrorism of CA BF. They won't stop if we don't start bringing this to national attention. i think they brass needs to be named by person in suit and keem em in courts.

double_action 12-19-2008 9:59 AM

Very nice news, many thanks to CGF!

Renron 12-19-2008 10:03 AM

Congratulations!
Always good to hear common sense still rules (even in CA)

$ Donation made $

Ron

Cali80 12-19-2008 10:03 AM

I've been hiatus and look what happens when I return.

Miracles and commensense prevail, just in time for Christmas.

What is Iggy going to do now that his ego is bruised?

ARBITER 12-19-2008 10:07 AM

Thank you for all your support and guidance.
 
Thank you for all your support and guidance in having the case dismissed. Your the best. I want to thank Bill Wiese who recommended TMLLP C. D. Michell who put me in touch with Don Kilmer ( who defended me), Ivanimal (monitor), Gene Hoffman (Chairman, The Calguns Foundation), Wes Morris ( Ten Percent Guns), Ron Babcock ( Pres. Grassroots NRA Vallejo), Hector Garcia ( CWS ), Russ & Sally Nordyke ( T.S. Gun Shows) Joe Gun Guy & the Madison Society, my brother Mike (Public Defender City of brotherly love), Free and Accepted Masons of California, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, the Law Enforcement Community at large, and many many others who supported me from Calguns. The fight is not completely over and I have the utmost confidence that Don Kilmer will obtain the release of the 47 SLR's, 5 complete upper assemblies, computer, ATF-A&D books, parts kits, bullet buttons, u-15 stock's, cash and etc.
My wife and I have always checked with Calif. D.O.J bureau of firearms for a straight answer concerning the legalities of firearms, from the Fab-Ten (CMS engine Service Co.)(mag well sealed SLR), Vulcan V15 (Mag epoxied and pinned) to firearms not on the assault weapons list. When I asked a Calif. DOJ bureau of firearms expert (Iggy) at the Vallejo Gun Show about the legalities of the U-15 stock (which wasn't even displayed, I pulled it out from a bin to show him and then put it away) he answered I have no opinion it is up to the 50 DA's and then several days later sends an undercover agent in to purchase the U-15 stock on a lower half, then 10 minutes later brings a swat team to raid my house knowing my wife was recovering from open heart surgery is unfathomable.
John Contos


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