A pair of Associated Press reports Wednesday on the Rancho Tehama Reserve shooting may have unintentionally reinforced a growing sentiment that not only did California’s restrictive gun control laws fail to prevent the incident, but the legal system didn’t work, either.
This was further reinforced by a video featuring District Attorney Gregg Cohen, in which he detailed tenets of a criminal protective order his office obtained that was served on Kevin J. Neal back on Feb. 28. Neal, who had been charged with multiple felonies against two female neighbors was not supposed to harass or attempt to contact them in any way, and he was not allowed to own or possess firearms or ammunition.
Cohen said Neal had been charged back on Jan. 31 and he bailed out without ever appearing in court. The District attorney correctly noted that bailing out is a right any citizen has except in the case of a capital crime.
But this raises yet another question. Having been charged with assorted felonies, why was it taking so long to put this guy on trial?
Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston had some candid remarks during his Wednesday press briefing that got the attention of Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, a national gun rights group based in Washington State.
According to the Associated Press, “After being pressed by reporters on why police did not act when Neal was in clear violation of his court order, Johnston obliquely replied: ‘The law is only for people who obey it.’”
When asked about the rifles that Neal illegally possessed, Johnston offered this observation: “They can get parts through a number of variety of sources and they come together and they can build them in their shop or they can build them I their garage. And we’re seeing that the more restrictive that the laws come to people that purchase firearms we’re gonna see those criminal elements build their own. That’s what they do.”
“Sheriff Johnston’s astonishingly candid remark literally eviscerates California’s piecemeal gun prohibition strategy,” Gottlieb said Thursday. “Here was a man who was out on bail, on multiple felony charges, and who was a walking violation of every major gun control law in the state.”
Johnston said something else that was stunning. According to the Associated Press, in explaining why authorities didn’t confront Neal about reports of him firing guns that he should not have possessed, Johnston said, “He was not law enforcement friendly. He would not come to the door. You have to understand we can’t anticipate what people are going to do. We don’t have a crystal ball.”
Gottlieb called that explanation “outrageous.”
“Neal was facing felony prosecution, his neighbors had a restraining order and he had apparently been shooting guns that he wasn’t supposed to have,” Gottlieb said in a statement to the press. “Of course he’s not going to be friendly, but that’s why we have search warrants and SWAT teams and jails.”
But the gun rights advocate focused primarily on the failure of California’s much-ballyhooed restrictive gun laws, and their failure to keep the madman disarmed.
“Johnston’s revelation that Neal had four guns illegally,” he said, “and that he was able to manufacture two rifles at home prove that the state’s Draconian gun control laws are a joke to be laughed at by any criminal or crazy person who wants a gun.”