Instagram star Dan Bilzerian’s home is literally covered in guns.
In a photo posted last year, he laid out about 15 rifles and pistols on a table, saying, "My greatest fear is that someone will break in & I won't be able to decide what #gun to shoot them with." Another post shows a vault lined with firearms from top to bottom with the caption: "My office is a bit of a mess."
In a profile of Bilzerian in GQ earlier this year, a friend described in shocking terms just how many guns are laying around the notorious playboy’s home, suggesting they pose a safety threat.
“They're all chambered and loaded,” Jonathan Grotenstein, a fellow pro poker player, told the magazine. “You look at the guns, and you look at all these women coming and going…and it's hard not to wonder how it's all going to end."
Bilzerian loves his guns. That's why he's so upset that nine of them ended up in the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department without a warrant this fall after a break-in at his home. And with 13 million followers on Instagram and a gun-rights column in the conservative newspaper The Washington Times, Bilzerian has now become a noisy critic of the police department’s confiscation tactics.
The break-in happened in September, on a weekend when Bilzerian was out of town. By the time police arrived to his home, the thieves had already gotten away. That's when the officers turned their attention on the guns inside the home, even breaking into his closet to retrieve some, members of Bilzerian's team told The Washington Times:
For two months after the break-in, Mr. Bilzerian, a professional poker player and gun rights champion, says police inexplicably continued to keep the nine firearms under lock and key without a warrant. When the eight pistols and one rifle were returned to their owner about a week ago, all the ammunition for the firearms was missing, raising questions about the LAPD's protocol for seizing firearms.
The nine guns were removed because police said they wanted to secure the home in case a second break-in was attempted, Bilzerian's team said.
“Essentially they were ‘trying to protect my property and people’s safety.’ This is hard to grasp, when they left my $21,000 FN SCAR17 with thermal optic and shotguns unsecured in that same room.” Bilzerian said.
In a phone call, a spokesperson for the LAPD told Fusion that it is unable to comment on the case because there is an internal investigation underway regarding Bilzerian's allegations. There is no concrete policy for when legally-owned firearms can be confiscated, although there are certain "domestic situations" where it might be legally permitted, said the spokesperson. But, he confirmed, Bilzerian's guns were taken.
To the Washington Times, Bilzerian said that his recent run-in with the department has made him bitter about the “aggressive and unconstitutional anti-gun stance California has taken with its law-abiding citizens.” His team did not respond to a request for an interview from Fusion.
A law passed last year will allow police in California to proactively confiscate someone's firearms for a full year if a family member, law enforcement officer, or mental health professional deems that the person might soon commit an act of gun violence. The law, which gun control advocates have lauded and which opponents have dubbed "America's Worst Gun Control Bill," fully goes into effect in January.
It's the kind of law that Bilzerian sees as an encroachment on his rights, even if he chooses to exercise those rights in an extreme way. His fascination with guns goes back at least until high school, when he was expelled and sent to jail during his senior year for taking a machine gun to school in the trunk of his car.
In one Instagram photo taken at the NRA Museum in Virginia, Bilzerian is seen looking closely at a plaque of the "9/11 Revolver," which was recovered from the wreckage of the terrorist attack.
"Let us never forget the tragedy of 9/11, the heroes who died trying to save innocent lives," he wrote in the caption. "[A]nd let us also not forget the liberties and privacy we lost as Americans, when that day was used to pass the 'patriot act'."
A few days later, he was posting photos of a herd of nearly naked women, with the caption: "Nothing good happens before midnight."
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.