BELLEVUE, WA — The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit against the police departments in San Francisco and Oakland, California for refusing to return firearms to people who had been charged with crimes, but subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

SAF is joined in the lawsuit by the Calguns Foundation and two private citizens. The case is known as Churchill, et al. v. Harris, et al.

The police agencies apparently are relying on a state Department of Justice document that requires proof of ownership of each firearm before they are returned. But Don Kilmer, counsel for the plaintiffs, has noted that, “In California, the Evidence Code makes it clear that simple possession is proof of ownership of almost all types of common property, including firearms. The California Department of Justice is misleading police departments in such a way that they violate the rights of gun owners who were investigated and found to have not violated the law.”

“What the police departments are doing is a deliberate theft of personal property, and they know it,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “Our partners at the Calguns Foundation have properly argued that this is inexcusable, and they are right.

“We saw this sort of property theft following Hurricane Katrina,” Gottlieb recalled, “and we took that case to federal court, and won. Government agencies simply cannot seize private property and refuse to give it back by playing bureaucratic games.”

“Law-abiding Californians should not be forced to seek out expensive legal representation just to get back what is rightfully theirs in the first place,” added Calguns Foundation chairman Gene Hoffman.

“This cannot be allowed to continue,” Gottlieb observed. “That’s why we have taken this action, and we expect to prevail.”