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California man's home raided, guns seized because of incorrect information

Anti-gun violence demonstrators
Anti-gun violence demonstrators
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A California man's home was visited by armed agents from the state looking for his firearms. They were there because incorrect information showed he was ineligible to own them.

Michael Merritt, from Bakersfield, was charged with marijuana possession 40 years ago, put on probation and paid a fine of $100.

The charge is so old it doesn't exist any longer on in the state’s criminal code. On Nov. 5, APPS agents raided his home and seized his firearms.

The agents who visited Merritt were from the California State Department of Justice’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System. In April of last year, California passed APPS, which is a system designed for gun confiscation.

The 33-man unit was formed in 2001 and is tasked with seizing once legally owned firearms from those who've been deemed no longer eligible to have them by the state. According to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, almost 20,000 gun owners in the state are prohibited from possessing firearms.

Since 1996, California has complied a significant list of those who own handguns and or assault weapons. The California DOJ cross-references that list and then makes a determination about who is ineligible for owning firearms. Under the law, ineligibility includes convicted felons, anyone under a domestic violence restraining order or deemed mentally unstable by the state.

When the DOJ makes a match, they then conduct an investigation determining if the person on the list owns firearms. After deciding if a person may still possess firearms agents pay a visit to the residence, without a warrant, to conduct interviews. They are looking for incriminating evidence to determine if guns are on the premises.

It was while agents were cross-referencing the state’s lists of registered gun owners against the list of ineligible persons, the APPS flagged Merritt for a raid. They seized 18 firearms; five handguns were purchased legally; some were guns he inherited, and some were owned by his wife.

The report from says Merritt's wife, Karla, told agents to leave the house and get a warrant; which they were fine with. However, the agents assured the Merritts if they did leave to obtain a warrant when they came back the Merritts were going to jail.

Two weeks after the raid on Merritt's house agents called him with a bit of good news. It seems he was eligible under state law to still possess firearms. APPS agents brought back the guns on Nov. 21. Merritt and his wife recorded the exchange and inventoried the firearms which were all accounted for.

The DOJ made a statement through KBAK/KBFX admitting their mistake. They blamed it on court records not being updated from the original charge that occurred in 1970. Merritt's charges had been reduced to a misdemeanor and hence he wasn't a felon after all.

“I’m glad we got them back, we got lucky,” Merritt said. “Because we never thought we’d see the guns again, ever.”

The rest of this article contains commentary from this Examiner, so stop reading here if you don't agree with a biblical assessment of this situation.

Christianity Examiner Commentary

California's APPS system is a prime example of a dragnet sweeping too wide. It's reported that the Attorney General Kamala Harris is behind the push to seize weapons. In their zealousness some, like Merritt, are caught in the net and their rights are violated.

Our founding fathers established the Constitution to guard us against such tyrannical acts. Now don't misunderstand this Examiner, convicted felons, and those with confirmed mental instability shouldn't own guns. However, with the push to seize guns, some people are being targeted for the smallest mistake they made years ago.

We have an out of control government in place today with elected representatives meeting with union and other special interests groups and there seems to be no desire or obligation for politicians to heed the will of "we the people."

Policies and laws are being made without Congressional or our approval. Using their power they usurp the Constitution in trying disarm "we the people." The problem rests in our principles, which were established on a biblical foundation by our forefathers.

Samuel Adams said: "A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."

Our nation, for the most part, is in such a state of moral decay that corruption runs rampant. Despite all the wrong going on in our government most people remain silent about it. The word of God gives us an example of what to do when "rulers" are corrupt and immoral.

In Matthew 14:1-4 John the Baptist confronts King Herod after he married his brother Phillip's wife. This was both illegal and immoral under Jewish law. John stood up to the illicit behavior by Herod; he called him out on his immoral actions.

When King David had Bathsheba's husband killed so he could marry her, because he had already gotten her pregnant, the prophet Nathan called him out on his wrong. There are many other biblical examples which show Godly people speaking out against immorality and wrong things done by leaders.

It's way past time for citizens of this nation to stand up and say enough. We have allowed corruption and decadence for far too long and we will not remain silent any longer.

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