There Are Felons In Possession And Then There Is This!

It is against Federal law and most state laws to be a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. This would include possession of ammunition. Usually when a criminal is charged with being a felon in possession it is because they had used a firearm in the commission of another crime. Then there is Manuel Fernandez of Agua Dulce, California.

Fernandez had been convicted of a felony in February 2017 but was released in August. He had been sentenced to 486 days in jail on unspecified felony charges.

Fast forward to June 14th. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department acted on a tip and raided Fernandez’s home outside of Palmdale. The tip said Fernandez had “an arsenal”. Normally, in California terms, that meant he had a Marlin Glenfield 60, a Ruger 10/22, and maybe a semi-broken revolver along with a couple of boxes of ammo.

LA County Sheriff’s Dept photo

In this case, I will freely admit that Fernandez did indeed have an arsenal by any stretch of the imagination.

LA County Sheriff’s Dept photo

The sheriff’s raid initially netted 432 firearms. They then got a warrant to search another house of a “female friend” a mile away and got another 30 firearms. However, they were not done. Returning to Fernandez’s residence, investigators found another 91 firearms hidden throughout the house and property. This brings the total to 553 firearms. In a quick scan of the photos, I see Mosins, Swiss K-31, Mausers, etc. He was an equal opportunity felon in possession it seems.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is working with the LASD to trace these weapons. Investigators also seized computers, hard drives, and cell phones that they thought might have been used in Fernandez’s illegal firearms purchases.

LA County Sheriff’s Dept photo

Fernandez has been charged with being ” Felon in Possession of Firearms (129800(a)(1) PC), Possession of an Assault Rifle (32625(a) PC, Felon in Possession of Ammunition (30305(a) PC) and Possession of Large Capacity Magazines (32310(a) PC).” Believe it or not but Fernandez was released on bail the next day which I have confirmed through LASD records. Fernandez appears in court on July 9th on these charges.

I’m going to guess that if Fernandez is convicted he will serve more than the 486 days his first felony conviction was supposed to bring him.

Commutations And Felons In Possession

It is within the power of the President of the United States to both commute sentences and grant pardons. President Obama used that power on Wednesday to commute the sentences of 214 individuals. This was the greatest number of commutations at a single time.

These commutations are being portrayed as being for mainly “nonviolent drug offenses”. President Obama went on Facebook to argue that our drug laws are too harsh and that Congress needs to institute sentencing reform.

But this is a country that believes in second chances. So we’ve got to make sure that our criminal justice system works for everyone. We’ve got to make sure that it keeps our streets safe while also making sure that an entire class of people like Sherman (Chester) isn’t relegated to a life on the margins.

The impression given is that many of those who had their sentences commuted were convicted of having relatively small amounts of drugs. How the Obama Administration defines “small” is open to debate.

Would you consider five kilograms of cocaine a small amount given the approximate street value per kilo is around $30,000? At least 15 of those convicted had this much or more in their possession when arrested. Of course it would be hard to top Ralph Casas of North Miami Beach who was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute over 9,445 kilograms of cocaine.

What does get me is that not all of these are “non-violent felons”. Jazz Shaw at points out that about a fourth of those who had their sentences commuted were also convicted of crimes involving firearms.

Basically one in four of the commuted sentences were for gun charges. First of all, when you’re packing heat as part of your drug dealing business you’re not exactly projecting the image of the non-violent criminal, but that’s hardly the point here. We’re being lectured on a daily basis by Barack Obama and his Democratic allies about the need to shut down the flow of weapons, end gun violence and every other catch phrase you can imagine which involves limiting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding gun owners. We are also assured of the need to curb the power of “the gun lobby.” In response, conservatives regularly point out that we might want to enforce the gun laws we already have on the books first and deal with the actual criminals who are trafficking in illegal guns. (Which are used in the vast majority of gun crimes in this country.)

Going through the list – and I may have missed some – I found 25 convicted felons in possession of a firearm. For some reason I don’t think these guys went through a NICS check. I know for sure that Kenneth Lee Kelley of Westville, OK didn’t go through a NICS check because he was convicted of not only two counts of being a felon in possession but also for having a stolen firearm. Nor did Ervin Darnell Worthy of Akron, OH who had a firearm with a altered serial number.

Joshua Boyer of Tampa, FL takes the prize for most interesting firearms offense. He was convicted of having possession of a firearm that was not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. If I were to speculate, Mr. Boyer was emulating Jack Miller of US v. Miller fame in that he had a sawed off shotgun. He may, of course, had a full-auto firearm or a silencer.

Frankly, I really am not that sympathetic to junkies who ruin their lives by their choices. I am at the point where legalizing all drugs is starting to make some sense given the militarization of the police, overuse of SWAT teams, etc. However, knowing that junkies will do anything for their next fix including killing you or me for the change in our pockets, I am not that sure that commuting the sentences of those who facilitate drug use is the correct thing to do if we want to “keep our streets safe.” I don’t necessarily know the correct thing to do but commuting the sentences of many of these felons doesn’t quite sit right with me.

Don’t Think A .22LR Isn’t Useful For Self-Defense?

Mall ninjas and Internet commandos will tell you that “bigger is always better” and that “if the caliber doesn’t begin with a 4” it’s useless. I hate to break it to them but even a .22LR can be used successfully for self-defense.

A case in point. Yesterday evening in Magalia, California (Butte County north of Sacremento), John Randolph Shanks III found out the hard way that even one shot from a .22LR can kill you. Mr. Shanks had just forced his way into a Magalia residence along with an accomplice when the homeowner shot him once in the chest with a .22 handgun. When Butte County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived, they tried to revive him to no avail. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

So was Mr. Shanks just some down on his luck guy looking for food and a warm place to crash? Not really.

According to Butte County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Hail,

Shanks was released from state prison in mid-November, but he reportedly failed to report to the Butte County Probation Department as required.

Hail said probation had issued a request that law enforcement be on the look out for Shanks, and were in the process of getting an arrest warrant for the man.

According to Butte County Court records Shanks was sentenced to state prison in April 2010, after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and felony attempting to evade a peace officer. In 2007 he was also convicted for attempting to evade a peace officer. He was sentenced to prison then.

In 2003 he was sent to prison on a charge of “resisting an executive officer.”

The best part of this article is where they say “no charges have been filed against the shooter”.

I don’t recommend a .22LR for self-defense but if it is all you have, then go with it. I’d say the homeowner was lucky and, obviously, Mr. Shanks was not in this case.

Michael Bane has been making the point recently in his podcasts concerning the debate between the 9mm Luger and the larger cartridges that more holes are better even if they are smaller. Moreover, he makes the point that even if it is “only a .22”, no one wants to be shot.

H/T Guns Save Lives