These handguns can only be purchased by law enforcement officers, or through a private party, because the models do not appear on California’s “roster” of guns approved for sale to the general public.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives raided Gourdikian’s Sierra Madre home in February, taking away a total of 61 guns and gun parts, including at least 18 pistols that were “off roster.”
Officers can sell off-roster weapons to civilians, but only if they are not flipping the firearms to make a profit. An ATF notice sent to Southland law enforcement agencies in March called these sales “a growing trend” in the Los Angeles area.
(Later): California’s already limited and constantly shrinking roster of approved guns has created a high demand, according to C.D. Michel, a California attorney whose clients include the National Rifle Association of America and the California Rifle and Pistol Foundation.
“The only guns that the retailers can buy in this state from the manufacturers are models that are a couple of years old,” Michel said.
A seller might make hundreds or even thousands of dollars in profit off a single off-roster sale.
“The retailer can only sell an off-roster gun to a law enforcement officer, but the law enforcement officer can sell it to a private party,” Michel said. “It’s not illegal if you buy them for yourself and you go out and shoot it and decide you don’t like it, and you want to sell it. You just can’t have the intention to sell it to someone else when you buy it.”
The seller has to do the transaction through someone with a federal firearms license to avoid breaking the law, but too many sales in a short period might also trigger an investigation.
Though Gourdikian had 56 guns seized, not all necessarily relate to the crime being investigated, Michel said. Agencies sometimes pad their numbers by seizing an entire collection, he added.
“They say if you sell one gun, your entire inventory is contraband,” Michel said.
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