Four misdemeanor charges were filed Wednesday against a Los Angeles gun dealer who took his supply of assault rifles to Pasadena for a parking lot sale after marketing of the weapons was banned in Los Angeles.
Ology Gibson, who operates Gun Heaven, was charged by the Pasadena prosecutor's office with failing to obtain a Pasadena business license and an outdoor sale permit and of violating state penal code sections governing the sale of concealed weapons.
Pasadena officials said they want to discourage gun dealers from coming to the city as other communities outlaw the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons.
Rationale for Charge
Christopher Smith, Pasadena's assistant city prosecutor, said the penal code charges are based on the theory that assault rifles are small enough to be concealed on a person and, therefore, must be sold under special state or federal licenses and with a 15-day waiting period.
Gibson did not have the required licenses or observe the waiting period when he conducted the assault rifle sale outside a Pasadena gun store Feb. 11, Smith said.
John Butler, owner of C & J Arms in Pasadena, told police that he had given Gibson permission to use his parking lot only to deliver rifles to customers who had already purchased them--not to sell guns there.
Pasadena Police Lt. Wes Rice said callers to Gun Heaven heard a recorded message directing them to Pasadena for an assault rifle "blowout sale." In the C & J Arms parking lot, he said, visitors found Gun Heaven employees transacting business from folding tables set up next to a van stocked with semiautomatic weapons.
Gibson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Rice said police have also asked the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to investigate whether Gibson violated federal firearms statutes. A spokesman for the bureau confirmed that an investigation is under way but would not discuss details of the case.
Smith said Gibson is being notified of the misdemeanor charges by mail and will be required to appear in Pasadena Municipal Court on March 13. The maximum penalty for each charge is a fine of $500 and six months in jail.
Pasadena Mayor William Thomson said the city has been reluctant to ban the sale and possession of semiautomatic weapons because the issue should be dealt with at the state or federal level. But "we do not want (Pasadena) to become a dumping ground for assault rifles," Thomson said.
The city will consider imposing a ban if the state fails to act, he said, or if so many neighboring communities adopt such ordinances that Pasadena becomes one of the few jurisdictions where assault rifles can be legally bought.
A number of cities, including Los Angeles, Carson, Compton, Lynwood, Bellflower and Gardena, have banned sale of the weapons.