2A Groups Sue Anti-Gun State Over Its Slo-Mo Handgun Ban

One of the quirks of California’s ridiculous gun control laws is the state’s Roster of Certified Handguns. The only pistols that can legally be sold in the state are those models that have been placed on the roster by the state’s Department of Justice, but since California’s microstamping law took effect back in 2013, no new models of handguns have been made available in the state.

Even worse, hundreds of existing models of handguns have been dropped from the roster, which leaves California gun owners unable to purchase some of the most popular pistols in the country. California’s handgun roster is actually a slow-motion gun ban that’s left gun owners with fewer options for self-defense every year of its existence.

Now a coalition of Second Amendment groups, including the Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (full disclosure: I’m a board member of the organization), Firearms Policy Coalition, and San Diego County Gun Owners have filed a new federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the roster itself.

“It is clear that the intent of California’s anti-gun lawmakers is to ban more and more protected arms through increasingly restrictive legislation,” explained SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “This expanded handgun ban scheme cannot go without challenge. We look forward to prevailing in this case and winning Second Amendment rights one lawsuit at a time.”

“In Heller the U.S. Supreme Court provided a simple test: if an arm is bearable and in common use for lawful purposes, it is prima facie protected under the Second Amendment, period,” FPC Director of Legal Strategy Adam Kraut added. “The handguns California prevents law-abiding people from purchasing and making themselves are protected arms.”

Not only does California’s gun ban by another name infringe on the rights of residents to keep and bear arms that are in common use, it also fosters a culture of corruption within law enforcement. Police officers can buy handguns that are “off-roster,” though they’re not supposed to turn around and sell them to civilians. The temptation is too much for some officers, however, as the U.S. Attorney for Southern California knows firsthand.

California’s handgun roster actually creates an illicit market that wouldn’t exist without the regulations that keep many popular handguns out of the reach of legal gun owners. If Californians could simply buy the same handguns available for sale in the vast majority of the other 49 states, police officers would have no opportunity to act as a straw buyer of off-roster handguns.

The FPC’s president Brandon Combs says that with the handgun roster, the state legislature has created a “regulatory scheme that prevents people from buying handguns that are widely available and popular” across the rest of the country. 

“California’s new and expanded handgun ban is unconstitutional because it prevents law-abiding people from purchasing the common, modern firearms they have a right to under our Constitution. Just like the State cannot prohibit people from buying the political books of their choice, different versions of religious texts, or computers with technological and commercial developments better suited for publishing speech, it cannot ban the sale and self-manufacture of these constitutionally protected handguns.”

The new case, called Renna, et.al. v. Calif. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, et.al, offers a great opportunity to being California in line with the Constitution and restore the rights of residents to purchase the same commonly-owned pistols that their neighbors in Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon can own without issue. It will be a few weeks before the state’s attorney general responds, but this is definitely a case to keep an eye on in the months ahead.