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Machine guns shown in court

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Witnesses from the Sheriff’s Department put on an impressive show in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on May 11, exhibiting for the prosecution a collection of illegal assault weapons taken from the home of an Arroyo Grande man. Authorities say it was one of the largest local weapons busts in decades.

Howard Alan Krinsky, 62, is charged with six weapons-related felony counts, including unlawfully converting a firearm into a machine gun, selling firearms without a license, and possession of a “destructive device”—one that fires ammunition larger than .60 caliber. 

On day two of Krinsky’s trial, the court heard testimony from Sheriff’s Investigator and firearms expert Sgt. John Marrs, who played for the court a DVD showing deputies test-firing the evidence at the department range. After each weapon was shown to be operational, Marrs brought each weapon out one by one from the jury room to show Judge Michael Duffy.

Among the items, Marrs displayed a fully-automatic M1918 Browning Assault Rifle, an M-60 military machine gun, an M-16, four AK-47s, an AR-15 and an Austrian-made Styer AUG assault rifle. The showstopper: a seven-foot-long, .75-caliber anti-tank cannon.

The court also heard testimony from sheriff’s detective Keith Scott, one of the deputies who served the search warrant on Krinsky’s home. Krinsky’s attorney, Guy Gallambos, questioned Scott about why more than 300 personal items were also taken from the home, including legal handguns, knives, and sleeping bags.

 Scott testified that because of the dangerous nature of some of the items, and because deputies knew the home would be vacant for a period following Krinsky’s arrest, the items were removed in case of a break-in.

Krinsky’s case is closely tied with that of Alan Garrison, a friend of his for more than 30 years, who is currently serving a six-year sentence for attempting to sell handguns—some allegedly provided by Krinsky—to undercover officers.

Krinsky’s cache was discovered by a bail bondsman who visited his home in May 2009 looking for Garrison, after Garrison missed a court appearance. Krinsky had co-signed Garrison’s bond. The bondsman then notified the Sheriff’s Department, who found more than 200 guns in the house, as well as boxes of ammunition, two smoke grenades, gunsmith tools, and combat survival manuals.

According to Deputy District Attorney Karen Grey, if convicted of all counts, Krinsky faces a sentence of more than 20 years. He is expected to take the witness stand May 13.

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