Court Approves Waiting Period for Existing California Gun Owners

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s policy of withholding weapons for 10 days from buyers who previously purchased a gun and clear a background check before the state’s waiting period is a reasonable safety precaution that does not violate the Second Amendment, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.


A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court decision that found the law was unconstitutional when applied to existing gun owners and people with concealed-weapons permits who pass the checks before the 10-day waiting period.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii said in his 2014 ruling that the state’s goal of implementing a cooling-off period to prevent impulsive acts of violence will not deter those who already own a gun.

But 9th Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder said the waiting period makes sense, for example, for someone who already owns a hunting rifle but may want to buy a larger-capacity weapon that will do more damage when fired into a crowd.

“A 10-day cooling-off period would serve to discourage such conduct and would impose no serious burden on the core Second Amendment right of defense of the home,” she said.

California approved a 10-day waiting period in 1996. Nine states and the District of Columbia have waiting periods of various lengths that apply to the purchase of some or all firearms, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Two gun owners and two gun-owner rights groups, the Calguns Foundation and Second Amendment Foundation, sued over the California waiting period in 2011.


Brandon Combs, executive director of the Calguns Foundation, said the group will appeal. He called the ruling “surprising” given the lower court held a trial.

“This panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has proven to be more interested in their own policy preferences than the Constitution and the text, history and tradition of the Second Amendment,” he said in a statement.

Schroeder said the effect of the waiting period on existing gun and concealed-weapons permit owners was small, requiring them simply to hold out until the end of the “incremental portion” of the waiting period that extends beyond the background check.

The judge also noted that waiting for guns was nothing new.

“Before the age of superstores and superhighways, most folks could not expect to take possession of a firearm immediately upon deciding to purchase one,” she said.

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