Wayne Wright has a serious problem. About eleven years ago, the Vietnam veteran, police officer, and firefighter was the subject of a triumphant LAPD press release about a conquest it had achieved in its war on the private ownership of guns by California residents.
Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department aggressively targets suspects involved in the illegal sale of firearms to stop the flow of guns to the streets of Los Angeles.
On September 16, 2004, the Gun Unit, Detective Support Division, working from recently developed intelligence information, conducted an undercover gun buy operation in the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles. The suspect, Wayne Wright, engaged in an unlawful firearm transaction with an undercover Gun Unit officer. Wright was immediately arrested for the violation and during a subsequent search of his vehicle 11 additional rifles and shotguns were recovered.
Gun Unit Detectives then obtained a search warrant for Wright’s residence in the city of Simi Valley. During the service of the warrant, Gun Unit detectives recovered 376 weapons, including rifles, shotguns, handguns and assault weapons. Many of these guns are the types routinely used in crimes in Los Angeles. Also recovered at Wright ’s residence was a silencer and thousands of rounds of ammunition, including tracer rounds and armor piercing rounds, all of which in California, are felonies to possess.
During 2003, the gun unit seized 348 firearms. Year-to-date in 2004, the Gun Unit has seized 411 firearms. The seizure in this case of 388 total firearms nearly equals that for the first 8 months of 2004 and exceeds the total seizure for 2003.
The suspect, Wayne Wright, is not a licensed gun dealer and the Los Angeles Police Department believes that Wright is actively engaged in unlawful gun trafficking.
The only problem with the story: Wright wasn’t actually engaged in unlawful gun trafficking. Despite the seizure of hundreds of his firearms by the police, the only violations the DA could make stick was a single misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of an “assault” weapon (apparently he’d been the executor of the estate of a brother law enforcement officer, and, according to his attorneys, had simply ‘forgotten’ about it, which might be plausible given that he had 300+ firearms to keep track of.)