While the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen makes it clear that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right, in California the ruling class of anti-gun Democrats continues to treat it as if its no right at all. But a case that’s inching its way toward a decision from U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez has the potential to finally compel the state to recognize that our right to keep and bear arms exists, and it can’t be stopped at the state line.
Rhode v. Bonta challenges the state’s bizarre ammunition sales restrictions, which forbid residents from purchasing ammunition online or bringing ammo purchased out-of-state into California. Instead, residents are forced to purchase ammunition in person and go through a background check before taking possession. Visitors to California, on the other hand, aren’t allowed to bring ammo with them, and the only way they can buy ammo once they get there is to purchase and use the ammunition at a licensed range.
Olympic champion Kim Rhode is the named plaintiff in the case, but there are plenty of other individuals taking part in the lawsuit, and in a declaration filed this week one Florida resident detailed the Catch-22 situation the state has put him in. Stephen Hoover is a PhD candidate at the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University, but spends a lot of time in California for both his education and recreation. Hoover says the California law in question leaves him with “no avenue for me to acquire ammunition for defense of myself and dwelling, or other lawful purposes, while staying in California.”
On Wednesday, July 19th, 2023, I attempted to purchase ammunition at a sporting goods store located in Monterey, California. I asked two employees to check if they could sell me ammunition. One of the two employees called someone, I assume a supervisor, over the in-store telephone. I waited while the person on the other end of the phone conferred with the employee I was speaking with. The employee then informed me that I would not be allowed to purchase ammunition because I was not a California resident.
If California prohibited Hoover from posting to social media while he was visiting, or forbade him from purchasing a book at a book store there’d be howls of protests from the ACLU and other groups rightfully furious at the infringement on his First Amendment rights. Yet the state of California has in essence determined that your Second Amendment rights stop at the state line. There’s no way for a non-resident to obtain a concealed carry license, for instance, and the state doesn’t recognize any carry licenses issued by other states. As Hoover has detailed, even if you simply have a firearm in your temporary residence it’s virtually impossible for you to lawfully obtain ammunition, rendering your gun a very expensive paperweight.
The burden that the California law in question imposes on visitors isn’t at the heart of Rhode, but it’s still a factor that Benitez will hopefully consider and comment on when he releases his opinion. The plaintiffs have also been able to document the impact that the law has had on California gun owners, as attorney Kostas Moros detailed on X Thursday evening.
More concerning, California says around 40% of people denied did not successfully buy ammo in the months to come. They probably scared the hell out of a lot of people for no reason with their incorrect denials, and those people decided to just not buy ammo rather than figure out… pic.twitter.com/6FMWcQDLof
— Kostas Moros (@MorosKostas) August 17, 2023
California’s ammo purchasing restrictions are stopping hundreds of lawful gun owners for every prohibited person that’s denied, and as Moros’s fellow attorneys at Michel and Associates have documented, many of those gun owners are apparently giving up after they’ve been incorrectly turned away (though some of them may also be choosing to break the law and buy their ammo in neighboring states). The chilling effect that the state’s ammunition background checks have on residents will most likely be the focus of Benitez’s ruling, but his opinion could also at least start the process of restoring the Second Amendment rights of visitors as well.