Officials Seize AK-47s At SoCal Pawn Shop
Merchant Cites 'Gray Area' To Legality Of Weapons
POSTED: 11:06 am PST March 8, 2008
UPDATED: 11:06 am PST March 8, 2008
GLEN AVON, Calif. -- Local and federal law enforcement officers seized 10 AK-47-type assault rifles at a Glen Avon pawn shop and said the weapons were illegally imported into California, authorities said Saturday.
No arrests were made Friday at Bright Spot Pawn in Glen Avon, but authorities said they would seek charges against the owner of the weapons.
A man who identified himself this morning as the owner of Bright Spot Pawn said the weapons seizure was based on misguided legal assumptions.
Deputies had received information that illegal AK-47s were being sold at the shop, sheriff's Sgt. Steve Brown said in a release. Deputies and officers with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms executed a search warrant Friday morning at the pawnshop, in the 9000 block of Mission Boulevard in Glen Avon.
AK-47 knockoffs are popular in the assault rifle market, in part for claims that gas-operated original models are capable of firing up to 600 rounds a minute on full automatic. But such weapons are not legal for most Americans, say gun control proponents who feel there is no reason for hobbyists to own such potentially-destructive guns.
AK-47 enthusiasts say the weapon and its knockoffs make excellent hunting rifles.
The case will be forwarded to the Riverside County District Attorney, seeking charges against the owner of the weapons for 10 counts of possession of an assault weapons, and 10 counts of importing or offering assault weapons for sale, sheriff's officials said.
The ATF is continuing an investigation of the assault weapons, authorities said.
In spite of the weapons seizure, Bright Spot Pawn owner Jeff Russo said he thinks the weapons will be returned.
"There's a very gray area in the law as to whether they are legal," Russo said of the weapons. "I think there were assumptions being made and they were being overzealous. In this country, it's supposed to be we're innocent until proven guilty."
Russo said Bright Spot Pawn has operated at the same location in Glen Avon for nearly 20 years.