The California Rifle and Pistol Association has asked U.S. Judge Robert Benitez to block California’s new ammunition background check law from being enforced while a lawsuit challenging the new requirements is being heard. The motion for an injunction was filed earlier this week, and the judge could issue is ruling early next month. This is the same judge, by the way, who blocked the state’s ban on the possession of “high capacity” magazines from going into effect earlier this year, and that has many gun owners optimistic that something similar could happen to the new requirement that every ammunition purchase in the state go through a background check and the buyer’s personal information logged by the ammunition seller. Additionally, the CRPA and its attorneys are challenging a portion of the law forbidding Californians from ordering ammunition online directly to their homes, or from bringing ammunition purchased out-of-state back in to California.
“The scheme purports to funnel everyone seeking to exercise their Second Amendment right to acquire ammunition into a single, controlled source, an in-state licensed vendor, for the purpose of confirming purchasers’ legal eligibility to possess ammunition and to keep track of all purchases,” lawyer Sean Brady wrote. “While making sure dangerous people do not obtain weapons is a laudable goal for government, California’s scheme goes too far and must be enjoined.”
As we’ve reported before, gun owners who live in Needles, California have to drive 140 miles each way to legally purchase ammunition from the nearest California gun store, even though there are a half-dozen stores just a few miles away in the state of Arizona. Perhaps it’s not a real surprise that several out-of-state ammunition sellers have joined the named plaintiff, Olympian Kim Rhode, in the lawsuit against Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
As the Mojave Daily News points out, Judge Benitez has already given some clues about how he might rule on the injunction request by refusing to agree to the state’s demand to dismiss the CRPA lawsuit.
Benitez in October rejected the state’s attempt to throw out the lawsuit. He allowed opponents to proceed on arguments that the ammunition restrictions impede interstate commerce and are pre-empted by federal law.
The measure “criminalizes all of those (ammunition) transactions with merchants conducting business in other states,” he wrote in a preliminary ruling that the restriction “significantly burdens interstate commerce.”
He also preliminarily supported the argument that the new state law conflicts with a federal law allowing gun owners to bring their firearms and ammunition through California.
The California law “criminalizes bringing ammunition into the state that was purchased or obtained outside the state,” he wrote.
California’s ammunition background check law is a pretty clear abuse of the Constitution’s commerce clause, as well as a violation of the 2nd Amendment rights of California residents. Let’s hope Judge Benitez agrees when he hands down his ruling next month.
One more legal note from California: we reported earlier this week on the 18 Attorneys General from around the country who are backing California’s magazine ban and arguing that, under an “intermediate scrutiny” level of review, courts must acquiesce and approve virtually any gun control law a state may approve. CRPA President Chuck Michel tells Bearing Arms in a new statement that:
For a decade, many lower courts that dislike the Second Amendment have bent over intellectually backwards to get around the Heller decision and the high standard of scrutiny that should be used when judging the constitutionality of a gun control law. Despite Heller’s clear instruction, we now have a watered down standard that effectively pulls the Second Amendment’s teeth. As a result, dozens for gun laws and bans that can’t be constitutionally justified by real evidence have been allowed to stand. Thankfully some judges, like the one in the Duncan case, have the wisdom and fortitude to stand up to this judicial defiance even before the Supreme Court weighs in again, as it will do soon in the New York case, and sets things straight.
Between the Duncan case challenging California’s magazine ban and the Rhode case challenging the state’s new ammunition laws, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the federal courts in California in the coming weeks and months.