Angels man stands his ground on guns

September 09, 2003 11:00 pm

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

An Angels Camp man charged with possessing several illegal firearms said he will prove that federal law gives him the right to have them.

What's more, said Richard Wilmshurst, he plans to sue California agents who searched his house. He claims they violated his civil rights and took some of his property, including a gold bar, during the search.

Wilmshurst, owner of 49er Subaru in Angels Camp, was arraigned, cited and released in June on three counts of possessing an assault weapon and eight counts of unlawful assault weapon activity.

His preliminary hearing in Calaveras County Superior Court was continued yesterday until 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 16. He and his Sonora attorney, Thomas Marovich, want more time to research state and federal gun laws.

"We would like to get this research done and address this in the earliest stage of the case as possible," Marovich said.

Wilmshurst, who graduated from law school in Stockton, is convinced he did no wrong and said he wants to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We're going to go as far as we have to go with it," he said after his hearing was continued yesterday.

Wilmshurst is a firearms importer, and said his federal license allows him to own guns that might be illegal under state law.

The charges against him stem from a routine inspection in January by a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent.

At his house in Angels Camp, Wilmshurst showed the inspector his cache of firearms, including a German machine gun and two high-power rifles.

Because all three guns are illegal in California, the ATF agent notified state officials of her findings.

The California Attorney General's Office filed its charges against Wilmshurst in Calaveras County Superior Court on May 29.

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Aaron Maguire said federal law does not shield Wilmshurst from state law.