Slapped Down: California's Background Check Law on Ammo Sales Blocked by Federal Judge

Posted: Apr 24, 2020 1:25 PM
Slapped Down: California's Background Check Law on Ammo Sales Blocked by Federal Judge

Source: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Gun owners in California rejoice. At least part of your state’s anti-gun agenda has been blocked by a federal judge. The new law on background checks for ammunition sales has been put on hole, with Judge Roger Benitez ruling that the law was “onerous and convoluted.” This was a law years in the making, passed by a 2016 ballot initiative. It was supposed to go into effect July of this year. Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon has more:

"The experiment has been tried. The casualties have been counted," Benitez wrote. "California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured." 

The ruling dealt a blow to one of the strictest gun-control measures in the country and could provide new clarity on the extent to which voters and state governments can curtail gun rights. 

The case was filed by NRA affiliate the California Rifle and Pistol Association and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kim Rhode. They claimed the state's ban on carrying ammunition across state lines, coupled with the requirement that all sales be subject to a background check—unlike most other states which only require checks for gun sales—made it far more difficult to legally purchase ammunition in the state. The system had a 16.4 percent false-positive rate with an appeals process that forced residents to wait months to correct those problems. The National Rifle Association, which helped fund the suit, celebrated the ruling.

The Golden State is known for having some of the most anti-gun laws on the books. Yet, hopefully, Second Amendment advocates can score some more legal wins, given that the Trump administration has transformed the judiciary; he flipped the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Still, in October f 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a slew of other anti-gun bills. California will never be like Alabama in terms of gun rights, but that doesn’t mean you don’t stop fighting. The NRA had a list of the laws signed by Newsom. Here are some of them:

Assembly Bill 12, sponsored by Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin (D-44), would extend the duration of California’s “gun violence restraining order” law from one year to a period of up to five years. Meaning a person could be prohibited from owning and possessing firearms for five years at a time without ever being adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill or convicted of a crime.    

Assembly Bill 61, sponsored by Assembly Member Philip Ting (D-19), would expand the list of those eligible to file “gun violence restraining orders” beyond the currently authorized petitioners, which include immediate family and law enforcement.  The new list is expanded to employers, coworkers and employees of a secondary or postsecondary school that the person has attended in the last 6 months.  GVRO’s can remove a person’s Second Amendment rights, not based on criminal convictions or mental health adjudications, but based on third party allegations, often without due process until weeks after a person’s rights have been suspended.    


Assembly Bill 1669, sponsored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-18), would raise the fees paid by consumers when purchasing firearms. The DROS account has generated a massive surplus at times, so much so that tens of millions of dollars that have been utilized to fund other DOJ programs, including a $24 million dollar loan to the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) just a few years ago. This legislation appears nothing more than an effort to put more cost constraints on gun owners to foot the bill for the massive cost pressures the legislature has put on DOJ in recent years including ammunition background checks and long gun registration.     

Senate Bill 61, sponsored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-25), as amended would expand California’s existing one handgun a month law to also apply to handguns or centerfire semi-automatic rifles, with limited exceptions. Further the bill expands the prohibition on acquisition of firearms by a person under 21 years of age by eliminating the existing exception for 18-20 year-olds with a valid hunting license.    

It’s a legal win. I’ll take it, but as long as there are liberals in America, the fight over the Second Amendment will be our domestic long war. 

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