Former LA County DA says 'there is nothing in itself wrong with having a thousand guns' as police investigate a man found inside a Bel-Air home with more than 1,000 guns

  • On Wednesday, 57-year-old Girard Saenz was arrested “on suspicion of violating California’s law regarding assault weapons and .50 calibre Browning machine guns,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
  • He was released from jail on a $US50,000 bond on Thursday.
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives got involved after receiving a tip about someone “conducting illegal firearms transaction outside the scope of the federal firearm licence,” law-enforcement officials told the Associated Press.
  • Authorities found more than 1,000 guns in the mansion located on the border of the wealthy Los Angeles-area neighbourhoods Bel-Air and Holmby Hills.
  • The former Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley reacted to the discovery, saying “There is nothing in itself wrong with having a thousand guns. It all depends on whether they comply with California and federal laws.”
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An aerial image shows the breadth of the cache of guns found on Wednesday.


Saenz could be hit with additional charges, authorities told ABC News on Wednesday.


Owning this many guns isn’t itself illegal, a former Los Angeles County district attorney told the Los Angeles Times, but owners have to follow both state and federal gun laws.

Authorities reportedly found “rifles, shotguns, assault weapons, and pistols” in addition to “large amount of firearm-manufacturing equipment and tools.”

Owning that many guns is not in itself a crime.

“There is nothing in itself wrong with having a thousand guns,” the former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said. “It all depends on whether they comply with California and federal laws.”

He continued saying that the “arrest here seems to be for some illegal assault weapons.”

Citizens can own an assault weapon in California, according to the Sacramento Bee, if you had one before certain gun-control laws went into effect. They also have to be properly registered.

However, you cannot buy or sell assault weapons (which the state has defined) in California, with a few exceptions.

“California also prohibits any person from manufacturing, distributing, transporting, importing, keeping for sale, offering for sale, giving, or lending any assault weapon within the state,” the Giffords Law Center, a gun-control advocacy organisation, explains. “However, DOJ may, upon a finding of good cause, issue permits for the manufacture, sale, or possession of assault weapons to certain law enforcement agencies and officers and to approved individuals over the age of 18.”

Gun-rights attorney Chuck Michel told The Los Angeles Times that if you are a federally licensed weapons dealer – with a special “dangerous-weapons” permit – you can possess and sell guns that would otherwise be illegal in California.

He also noted that the large number of guns would not be unusual for a licensed weapons dealer to have.

It’s unclear what the nature of the guns are, found on Wednesday in connection to Saenz’s arrest.


‘It’s astounding.’

“I had never seen so many weapons in my career of 31 years,” LAPD Lt. Chris Ramirez said of the scene, according to ABC News. “That’s such a big arsenal in a residence like this, in this type of neighbourhood. It’s astounding.”

The home, located on North Beverly Glen Boulevard, is owned by Cynthia Beck, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Beck, who is well-known in the real-estate business, has been connected with Saenz; she also has three daughters with Gordon Getty, the son of J. Paul Getty.

“It is unclear whether Beck lives at the home where the weapons were found,” the AP reported noting that she “could not be reached for comment.”


Boxes of ammunition were also found.


The firearms will be itemized by the Los Angeles Police Department.

It took 30 law-enforcement officials upwards of 12 hours to move the guns out of the home, where they were found across multiple rooms.

The guns will be logged as evidence, LAPD Lt. Chris Ramirez told The Los Angeles Times.

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