DECLARATION OF GARY P. COCKRIELL
I, Gary P. Cockriell, declare as follows.
1. I have first hand personal knowledge of all facts declared herein, and, if called to testify, I could and would testify competently as to these facts of my own personal knowledge.
2. I am a licensed member of the State Bar of California. My Bar number is 182728. I have been intensely interested in Colt firearms for the past 25 plus years to date. I am well read about Colt firearms. For the last two years plus, I have been, and I am, a co- owner and co-manager of Helm’s House of Guns, 880 Piner Road, Suite 52, Santa Rosa, California, office telephone number (707) 545-8826. My business partner regarding Helm’s House of Guns is Mel Helm. Mr. Helm has been in the retail sale business of new and used firearms, including Colt’s, for many years. Mr. Helm is, and has been, the holder of a federal firearms license for many years. Helm’s House of Guns stocks, sells, and deals in the following products and services: new rifles, handguns, and shotguns; used rifles, handguns, and shotguns; insurance appraisals of firearms; consignment sales of firearms; ammunition and reloading accessories; scopes and binoculalrs; security and gun vaults; outdoor video tapes; and outdoor art. I have been at this location with Mr. Helm for two plus years.
3. S.P. Fjestad’s Blue Book of Gun Values, 23rd Edition, is one of the bibles that gun dealers, and serious collectors, use to appraise and determine the value of firearms. The 23rd edition, to my knowledge, is the most current edition. I am well familiar with this book. I know how to use it properly to apparise, and to determine, the value of a firearm.
4. I got involved in this case when attorney Peter J. Mancus of Sebastopol, California called me to discuss the reasonable fair market value [RFMV] of a certain Colt Commander semi-automatic pistol which he said was owned by one of his clients, James A. Smith, Sr., of Pittsburg, California. Mr. Mancus said that the City of Pittsburg Police Department had confiscated Mr. Smith’s Colt Commander and Mr. Mancus wanted to know if I felt qualified, as an expert, to give a competent opinion as to the reasonable fair market value of this Colt Commander, and, if so, what would be my range for the the RFMV of this particular Colt Commander.
5. I have not seen, nor examined, this particular pistol.
6. Mr. Mancus told me to base my opinion of the RFMV of this Colt Commander on the following description, and information, about this Colt Commander: (a) Its serial number is 70SC32662; (b) the manufactuer is Colt; (c) the caliber is .45 ACP; (d) the finish is satin nickel; (e) it was bought used circa 1975-1976 for about $185.00; (f) it was a straight factory production handgun when bought used; (g) its condition when bought in 1976-1976 was good; (h) it has remained a 100% factory gun with no after market gunsmith work done to it; however, it currently has non-commercial, handmade, plain [no engraving,] wood panel grips--one oak and one black walnut; (i) it has had a substantial number of rounds fired through it; (j) it remains fully functional and accurate and it feeds live cartridges, fires live cartridges, and ejects spent casings problem free, reliably and consistently; (k) it is free of rust; (l) it shows normal wear and tear as to fit and finish [e.g., holster scuff marks, etc.]; (m) it has no obvious, nor large, blemishes to the finish, etc., other than evidence of normal wear and tear; (n) the owner, Mr. James A. Smith, Sr., might have engraved his driver license number or social security number on the pistol’s grip in an area where it would be covered by the wood grips attached to the pistol’s metal grip.
7. This description of this handgun is fairly detailed and complete. It is adequate for me to make an informed, competent, qualified, opinion as to the RFMV of this handgun. I stress, however, it would be better if I could personally see, handle, and examine this handgun. If I could actually personally see, handle, and examine this handgun, I could form a better opinion of its RFMV within a narrower range of value.
8. Assuming that this description is reasonably accurate, and given the limitations of me not actually seeing, handling, and examining, this handgun, the RFMV of this handgun, in June, 2002, in California, is in this range: (a) if it is at 80% of new condition the RFMV is $450.00 and (b) if it is at 95% of new condition the RFMV is $675.00. As qualified, I place a RFMV on this handgun from $450.00 to $675.00.
9. I base this opinion on the following considerations: (a) my extensive 25 years plus knowledge of Colt firearms; (b) my two plus years as co-owner and co-manager of Helm’s House of Guns; (c) what I have learned from Mel Helm about buying, selling, and appraising Colt handguns and other firearms; (d) what I know about how to properly use Mr. Fjestad’s authoritative reference, Blue Book of Gun Values, 23rd Edition; (e) what Mr. Fjestad states on page 475 of this edition of his book is the range of the RFMV of Colt Commanders that best approximate the description of this Colt Commander that was given to me; (f) what I know about the market place and the demand for Colt Commanders; (g) my understanding, from reliable source(s), that Colt has stopped making its Commanders, a fact that will tend to increase the value of Commanders among those who collect Colt handguns; and (h) my lack of actually personally examining this handgun.
10. Mr. Mancus also asked me for my opinion on the following accessories for this Colt Commander: one Colt satin nickel finish magazine; two blue finish, U.S. military issue magazine; and twenty-two .45 ACP live, non-commercial, reloaded, cartridges, of mixed brass headstamps and mixed bullets as to type and weight, from target bullets to anti-personnel bullets. Mr. Mancus asked me to assume that all of the above was in good, functional, serviceable, used, average, condition.
11. To my knowledge, there does not exist any authoritative, third party, neutral, objective, reference to which I may refer and use as a guide to place a value on these accessories. However, based on my personal knowledge of what these accessories sell for new, and used, and my twenty-five plus years of extensive knowledge about Colts, without actually seeing these accessories, my opinion of the RFMV of these accessories is as follows: (a) a used, good condition, functional, satin finish, Colt .45 ACP magazine for the Colt Commander has a RFMV in June, 2002 in California of approximately $20.00 to $30.00 and (b) a used, good condition, functional, blue, U.S. G.I. .45 ACP magazine suitable for the Colt Commander has a RFMV in June, 2002 in California of approximately $15.00 to $20.00, each.
12. I decline to state a RFMV of the described twenty-two .45 ACP, live, non-commercial, reloaded, cartridges.
13. Mr. Mancus also asked me of my opinion of the current utility, quality, and effectiveness of a Colt Commander as a fighting handgun for modern military, law enforcement, militia and/or personal defense use. My opinion is this: The Colt Commander is a smaller, lighter version of the world famous Model 1911 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol which was the standard issue handgun for all of the U.S. Armed Forces from 1911 to the mid-1980's. Despite the Model 1911's age, it [which includes its variants, such as the Colt Commander,] has earned, from many handgun experts, a well deserved reputation of being a classic. Classic, in this context, does not mean that the Model 1911 [or any of its variants] is out-of-date and ready for retirement. On the contrary, classic, in this context means that the Model 1911 [and its variants] is a proven, outstanding, superb, excellent, high quality, top-of-the-line, still highly useful, design, equal to, if not better than, most, or all, modern handguns for modern military, law enforcement, and/or militia war fighting purposes and personal defense use. Whenever serious, recognized handgun experts are surveyed as to which firearm would be on their short list for modern militiary, law enforcement, militia, serious handgun competition, and/or personal defense use, the Model 1911 [and its variants--including the Colt Commander,] is always ranked high on many such experts’ short list as one of the world’s best handgun designs, despite the design’s age. Many experts consistently still rank it No. 1. This is because this design continues to be extremely well suited for any modern military, law enforcement, militia, competition, or personal defense, use. Any modern military, law enforcement, or militia unit, [or individual citizen,] equipped with Model 1911 pistols [or any of its variants, which includes the Colt Commander] would be extremely well equipped with highly effective handguns. The Model 1911 [and its variants,] is still a highly effective, high quality, top-of-the-line pistol. Colt, genuinely, enjoys a well deserved reputation as the manufactuer of high quality handguns.
14. Based on what Mr. Mancus told me, my understanding of how this declaration will be used follows. Contra Costa County Superior Court Case No. NO2--0068 involves a dispute between the City of Pittsburg Police Department and James A. Smith, Sr. This dispute started in December, 2001, when City of Pittsburg police officers were dispatched to Mr. Smith’s residence because the local police department received a report that Mr. Smith had recently threatened to commit suicide with a handgun. Consequently, City of Pittsburg police officers went to Mr. Smith’s residence, made contact with him, took into their possession Mr. Smith’s Colt Commander .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol but knowingly left other handguns and rifles owned by Mr. Smith at Mr. Smith’s residence, and placed Mr. Smith on a Welfare & Institution Code § 5150 72-hour hold on the basis of the report that Mr. Smith had recently threatened suicide with a firearm and that the officers(s) perceived Mr. Smith to arguably be an unreasonable risk of harm to himself at that time. It is also my understanding that after Mr. Smith was screened by one or more California licensed, government employed, mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, at the mental facility to which the officers had Mr. Smith taken, within a few hours, on the same day, those licensed mental health experts determined Mr. Smith did not present a threat to himself and/or to others, and they authorized his release forthwith; thus, Mr. Smith was released on the same day that he was involuntarily made subject to a 72-hour hold. It is also my understanding that since this incident, Mr. Smith has continued to have access to other firearms that he owns and possesses, has not done anything objective that constituted an attempt to commit suicide, has not done anything objective that has caused anyone to point to any objectively verifiable fact that Mr. Smith presents as an undue risk of harm to himself and/or anyone. It is also my understanding that Mr. Smith’s criminal record, except for minor moving violations, is clean or minor, and that Mr. Smith is twice honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force, having served as a jet engine mechanic. It is also my understanding that since this incident, the City of Pittsburg has filed a petition to have a superior court judge make a judicial determination regarding whether or not Mr. Smith’s Colt Commander pistol should be returned to him, with or without any pre-condition or, in the alternative, destroyed. It is also my understanding that the judge who is assigned to this case told Mr. Smith that the judge would return this pistol to Mr. Smith if Mr. Smith promised to not commit suicide with it, but Mr. Smith refused to make such a promise. This is because Mr. Smith views the judge’s offer to be an unconstitutional prior restraint infringement against his rights. It is also my understanding that the attorney who is prosecuting this case for the City of Pittsburg told Mr. Smith that she will go along with the return of this pistol to Mr. Smith if, and only if, he and his parents agree in writing that the pistol would be entrusted to his parents for two years and his parents would have to agree in writing to this and other conditions, but neither Mr. Smith nor his parents are agreeable to this solution. This is because Mr. Smith and his parents consider this proposed solution to be an unconstitutional prior restraint infringement against Mr. Smith’s rights. Given this understanding, I agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mancus.
15. If required, I am willing, upon notice, to appear in court in Martinez, California on July 10, 2002, or at any other time [upon reasonable notice] to give sworn testimony, consistent with what I have declared herein.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the
foregoing is true and correct, and that this declaration was made in Santa Rosa, California on June , 2002.
Gary P. Cockriell