The handgun that GOP assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate
Donnelly told officers who questioned him that he had bought it five years before and never registered it in his name.
The San Bernardino County lawmaker and gun-rights advocate pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport. He was fined $2,125 and placed on three years' probation.
He was never charged with failing to purchase the gun through a licensed dealer, a requirement for most firearm purchases in California except certain antiques and curio rifles. Legal purchases trigger a change in the gun's registration, according to a spokesman for the state attorney general's office.
Failing to use a licensed dealer to buy a gun is a misdemeanor in California, and the statute of limitations is one year.
The report from the Los Angeles/Ontario International Airport police states that the gun was registered to Barbara Edith Burbeck, an 83-year-old San Bernardino County resident.
In an interview, Burbeck said she had used the gun for target practice but sold it at least 15 years ago. She said Tuesday she could not remember who bought it from her.
When told that police had seized it from Donnelly after airport security officials spotted it as it passed through an X-ray machine, Burbeck said, "You're kidding. I don't know him except having seen the stuff in the newspaper. He's a politician. I don't keep track of that stuff."
Donnelly did not return calls from The Times.
The gun charges against Donnelly generated buzz in the Capitol because of his outspoken support for gun rights. For example, he opposed a 2011 bill restricting the open carrying of handguns by calling the measure "a form of tyranny."
Under the terms of his probation, Donnelly is not allowed to "use, own or possess any firearm that is not registered to him."
However, he used three borrowed firearms at an indoor gun range in Santa Cruz County while campaigning this month.
Asked by The Times whether doing so violated his probation, Donnelly said, "I didn't do anything other than exercise my 2nd Amendment rights as a free American."
San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos said Donnelly would not face any legal sanctions for his actions at the gun range.
"The term of probation was never intended to apply to shooting at a gun range," Ramos said in a statement. "I will not allow our office to be used for political purposes."