The California Debacle That Cost a Couple Their 2A Rights

california debacle

Richard and Miranda Wallingford live next door to a nasty neighbor who didn’t happen to like the tree that graces their front yard. Instead of sucking it up like a normal person, she alleged to the police that Richard assaulted her. So she sought a restraining order against the couple and it was granted. In California, a regular restraining order requires forfeiture of a person’s guns – not a red flag order, a regular restraining order (Calif AB 2129). That began the California debacle that cost the couple their 2A rights. (John Petrolino at Bearing Arms)

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The new neighbor from hell

Imagine living in the same house with your spouse for over 50 years. Your front lawn has a sapling that, over the course of time, has grown into a beautifully tall tree. But the neighbor next door who moved in just a few years ago doesn’t like the tree, so she conspires to falsely accuse you of assault and battery after you refuse to remove it. You get arrested as a result. She then seeks a restraining order against you based on her false allegations, files both a civil case and small claims case against you, and to top it all off, California law takes away your right to own or possess firearms in connection with the restraining order—before you even have a chance to respond…

As a result of their new neighbor’s false allegations, the Wallingfords hired a home-security company to install cameras on their property. Their purpose was to prevent the neighbor from making additional false allegations in the future. Immediately after installation (but before a hearing on the restraining order petition was held), the cameras captured the neighbor making threatening gestures and attempting to damage the Wallingford’s tree. These images were shown to the court at the restraining order hearing, which ultimately concluded that the Wallingfords did nothing wrong and dismissed the petition against them. The criminal assault and battery investigation was dropped by the police, both the small claims case and civil case were dismissed, and the Wallingford’s firearm rights were also reinstated.

Second Amendment Law Center

Oh, but that’s not the end of this California debacle.

At the restraining order hearing, the Wallingfords went on record to state they simply wanted to put the matter behind them and ask the neighbor to cease and desist her hostile behavior. That of course did not happen. Late in the evening on the same day the neighbor’s civil case was dismissed, the security cameras captured the neighbor coming onto the Wallingford’s property and pouring bleach on the tree. The Wallingfords called the police, but the police took no action.

The neighbor’s behavior continued to escalate. She was recorded yelling verbal threats of violence from her front yard and making several throat-slitting gestures directed at the Wallingford’s cameras, at least one of which involved the use of a knife or similar cutting instrument. Now in fear for their personal safety, and seeing no other option at this point, the Wallingfords filed a petition seeking a restraining order against the neighbor.

Second Amendment Law Center
Screenshot of the Wallingford’s neighbor via Second Amendment Law Center

California Debacle: The clerical error that cost the couple their firearms

But before a hearing on the Wallingford’s petition is held, the neighbor again files a petition seeking a restraining order against the Wallingfords. This time, the neighbor claimed the Wallingford’s security cameras constituted harassment while also raising the same allegations of assault that were previously ruled on and dismissed.

Astoundingly, the court granted the neighbor a temporary restraining order, resulting in the Wallingford’s once again losing their Second Amendment rights until a formal hearing could be held. Worse still, the court later recognized that it mistakenly read the neighbor’s petition to include new allegations of assault—not the same allegations raised previously. Had it not made this mistake, it would not have issued a temporary restraining order. Nevertheless, the court refused to dissolve the temporary restraining order until a formal hearing could be held 60 days later…

Although the court ultimately granted the Wallingford’s petition for a restraining order against the neighbor because it found “no legitimate purpose to making a throat-slashing gesture towards [the Wallingford’s] security cameras, or to mooning the cameras, spraying the cameras with water, or other similar conduct,” the court also found the Wallingford’s security cameras constituted harassment. But the court also expressly noted the cameras “have since been repositioned such that they point only at areas of the [neighbor’s] residence in public view, which the court finds acceptable.” Nevertheless, the court issued a three-year restraining order against them—despite no other findings of harassing behavior or that the Wallingfords are a danger to the public or to themselves. What’s more, there was no evidence that the Wallingfords were directly involved in the installation of the cameras to begin with.

Second Amendment Law Center

So there you have the ‘picture’ so to speak. This is a California debacle. Living next to a neighbor like this would be hell for anyone. The couple that has lived in the same house for 50 years now is in constant worry that the neighbor will harm their property or even themselves. She poured bleach on the tree. She wants the cameras gone and could easily damage them with something other than water. She got her restraining order against the Wallingfords that the court says must remain in effect for three years, during which time they cannot possess firearms.

The Second Amendment Law Center along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association have filed a lawsuit, and the Wallingfords’ legal counsel are pursuing an injunction against the prohibition of firearms during the three year restraining order. The hearing on the Wallingford’s injunction request is set for November 1.

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Featured screenshot via Mfella attorney at law.

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