Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Arguments in McDonald Case

Some information is coming out via people who attended the arguments in McDonald v. Chicago. Both Volokh Conspiracy and Of Arms and the Law have posts. The 7th Circuit Court website has an MP3 file of the argument.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reasonable Gun Control

The phrase "reasonable gun control" is widely used by the anti-gun advocates in the media, but there is little agreement of what constitutes "reasonable" in the context of gun regulation. The two extreme positions, a total ban on guns, and complete freedom for anyone to own and carry anything, are usually rejected by most people. Some kind of regulation is needed, and in the wake of the Heller decision I think that compromise between gun control and gun rights advocates may be possible. What follows is my personal thoughts on what laws are needed for balance on this issue.

Note that the following discussion is founded on the premise that California state law is the starting point, and the proposed changes are changes to state law: some of the provisions would not make sense to people not familiar with California law. Other proposed changes are already in effect in California, and these are ones that I think should apply nationally.

Background Checks - Private Transfers as well.

Yep, close the so-called gun show loophole. The fundamental basis of my compromise position is that we, as a society, should do all we reasonable can to prevent prohibited persons from obtaining firearms. While I know that determined criminals will get them anyway, I believe that
we should not make it easier, and requiring background checks on all transfers is an easy way to start. We do background checks on private transfers in California, and the sky has not fallen.

Training - even more than that required by the HSC.

Before a person can buy a handgun in California they have to obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC). This is demonstration of knowledge of gun safety and firearms laws on a written, multiple-choice test. The test is ridiculously easy, and perhaps not as effective as it should be. I like the idea of training, and I think that even more training would be a good idea. Before buying my first handgun, I took the NRA Basic Pistol class. This was an eight hour session of classroom instruction on handguns, safety, and law, as well as a range session where instructors taught us how to shoot safely in an indoor target range. I found this to be a very helpful class for a new handgun owner, and it made my purchase a much more informed one as well. I would propose that attendance in a similar class would be required prior to purchasing ANY firearm.

One Handgun Per Month

I really do not understand the opposition to this proposal. Quality firearms, either new or used, are expensive, so I do not think that most people will buy more that one per month. Straw purchases are a problem, and this restriction is not too onerous if it can hep reduce them.

CCW Permits

The CCW permit system in California is a travesty. In this "may issue" state most jurisdictions where a person would need to carry a weapon, urban high-crime areas, won't issue, and in most areas where the authorities will issue, rural low-crime areas, there is much less need to carry a weapon. As a business owner in California, I understand the problem: exercising their discretion to issue a CCW permit makes the issuing authority liable for the acts of the CCW permit holder, so they refuse to issue. Many also refuse to issue because many Sheriffs and Police Chiefs don't want more armed people on the streets.

I think that there are only two fair options: we need to either make California shall-issue, or make California no-issue. These are the only fair options. Currently, a VIP or a "friend of the Sheriff" can get a CCW permit, but ordinary citizens cannot. The CCW permit circus in Orange County shows how a new Sheriff can arbitrarily change department policy, and begin to revoke or deny renewal of permits. I have come to believe that we should go all one way, or all the other.

Given the political makeup of the state in general, and the legislature in particular, I think that there is zero chance of a shall-issue system being put in place in any foreseeable future. Sure, AB 357 was recently proposed to make California "shall-issue", but this bill would have changed only a single word in the law: delete "may" and replace it with "shall". The "good cause" requirement was still there, which is antithetical to any real shall-issue system, and no objective criteria were defined by AB 357. AB 357 was a bad law, and it deserved to die in committee.

DOJ Handgun Roster

Some explanation of the Department of Justice Handgun Roster is in order for people reading this that are fortunate enough not to live in either California or the District of Columbia. Not evey handgun made is available for purchase in California. Manufacturers must submit their handgun to state-approved testing laboratories to ensure that the handguns meet California safety requirements. After acceptance, the manufacturer must pay a fee annually to maintain the listing of the handgun on the roster. If the manufacturer chooses not to maintain the listing, then the handgun can no longer be offered for sale by dealers. Unlisted handguns may still be transferred by private parties and brought into the state by their owners, however.

The DOJ roster is in effect a partial handgun ban. Guns that do not meet the safety requirements are banned for sale. If the costs of listing a handgun become prohibitive, the no handguns would be available for sale in California. The maintenance of the listing is what makes this a gun ban. There are many safety laws on the books, and many products are tested to various standards, but the safety laws simply say that the products sold must meet certain requirements, a Underwriter Laboratories standard, for example, to be sold. But once it is tested to be safe, it does not become unsafe simply because it has been taken off some list. The coercive nature of the DOJ roster is further illustrated by the fact that in 2010 all new handguns must have the "safety feature" of micro-stamping the handgun serial number of spent casings. Guns that do not do this are "unsafe" and may not be sold.

Repeal the whole stupid thing.

Assault Weapon Ban

The California Assault Weapon ban is the poster child for feel-good gun legislation. If the true intent of the 2nd Amendment is to be realized in the post-Heller United States, semi-automatic versions of military rifles would be the most protected firearms under the Constitution. Militia members reporting for duty with and AR-15 could be supplied with ammunition and magazines by the U.S. Army without any problems with the military logistics system.

This is also a law that has pretty much no impact on crime. Most crimes are not committed with rifles because they are not easily concealable. And the law itself is confusing and arbitrary. It bans rifles with certain cosmetic features, but does not ban rifles, equally as capable, that lack those features. A Bushmater Carbon 15 M4AR-15 is illegal, but the Springfield Armory SOCOM II rifle is not.

This law also bans large capacity magazines, defined as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Ineffective and confusing, this is a bad law.

Repeal it.

Ammunition Registration

There are no requirement to register ammunition purchases, yet, (See my posts on AB 962), proposals to do this have been raised before, implemented before, and repealed before. They used to exist at the Federal level, but were repealed when the BATFE testified before Congress that the requirements generated massive amounts of paper, that was of questionable value in fighting gun crime.

What such laws would do is make it harder for law abiding citizens to get ammunition for lawful purposes, and make that ammunition more expensive, due to the record keeping requirements placed upon ammunition vendor. In short this type of law is another feel-good law that would have no real effect on violent crime.


Well, these are my selections. I some cases I agree with the gun control advocates, and in others I disagree. I like the idea of training, which is the most effective way to increase firearm safety, not loading handguns with questionable features like loaded chamber indicators or magazine disconnects. Training will ensure that any gun can be handled safely by anyone. I also think that more can be done to prevent the flow of guns into the illegal arms market. But in general I think actions of individuals should be punished, not law abiding citizens as a class, to firearm bans are a no-go with me.

Let the flames begin.

Double Court Date - Gay Marraige and McDonald

By coincidence today has two important events in the courts. First, the California State Supreme Court is going to hand down a decision on Prop. 8, the controversial initiative that amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage. While I support gay marriage, if there were no irregularities with the way the proposition was placed on the ballot, or other errors, I hope the court to reject the plaintiffs case. It is more important that the will of the voters are respected by the courts, than the wants of a special group. Even if this happens, I think gay marriage will be recognized at both the state and federal levels much sooner than many people think. When this decision is released, you can find more information here.

Second, arguments are set to begin in the Chicago gun case, McDonald, et. al. v. Chicago, in which the Chicago gun ban comes under attack. I expect this case to either prevail, or be appealed to the Supreme Court, where it will prevail and incorporate the 2nd Amendment to all the states in the United States. It may take a few years, but I think this is going to happen as well. Any developments in this case will be posted here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nordyke v. King - Ninth Circuit Court Requests En Banc Review

I first heard about this here.

In what appears to be a very unusual development, a justice on the Ninth circuit itself has requested an en banc review of Nordyke v. King. What this means in terms of possible reversal of the 2nd Amendment incorporation decision I am not qualified to say, but there is some discussion on the Calguns posting above.

Note that this is a request for a review. It must still be approved. If it is approved, it will eventually be posted on this Ninth Circuit web page.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Guns in National Parks - California

With all of the media coverage of this issue one would think that the bare facts of the legislation would have been published early and often. But as with other issues, the media usually does not include "facts" that might allow one to make their own decisions about the issues.

The law allowing firearms in National Parks was passed as an amendment to H.R. 627 the Credit Card Act of 2009, and may be found in Section 512 of the law. The relevant section of the law is this:

    (b) Protecting the Right of Individuals To Bear arms in Units of the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System- The Secretary of the Interior shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm including an assembled or functional firearm in any unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System if--
      (1) the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm; and
      (2) the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System is located.

    How does this affect California visitors to National Parks? While I am not a lawyer, every gun owner should be knowledgeable about the gun laws in the state, which are complex. A very good resource for this is "How to Own a Gun & Stay Out of Jail" by John Machtinger, who is a lawyer. Every gun owner in California should own a copy of this book and read it thoroughly.

    My reading of the laws gives me this interpretation:

    Gun owners may now possess their firearms in National Parks. If you are traveling in your vehicle all firearms must be unloaded, and handguns must be stored in a locked container. You may have loaded firearms in your campsite, however, if you are a backpacker, carrying your handgun, whether loaded or unloaded, is a violation of the concealed weapon law, unless you have a California CCW license. Open carry of a handgun may or may not be legal depending, I think, on the county. Open carry of a rifle or shotgun may indeed be legal, but since hunting in a National Park is not allowed, perhaps not. I do not know of a good resource for open carry in California, and would welcome a resource.

    I think that more interpretation of California law will have to be made, and rules published to make this issue clear. At the current time the only things I will attempt with my firearms are traveling through a National Park (Highway 120 anyone?) and camping in a site reachable by motor vehicle.

    In any case, do not try this until the law comes into effect, which in Section 3 is "9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act".

    Saturday, May 9, 2009

    Armed Self Defense - Yes It Happens

    When anti-gun folks ask for an example of a gun being used in self defense, one in which it was not taken away from the defender and used against them, one in which lives were saved, then point them to this link.

    This story has already made the rounds on the blogs, but I wanted to post it here because it is so clearly an illustration that guns in citizens hand do save lives, and that when you are confronted with violence, calling the police may not help, so you must be prepared to meet that violence with a violent response.

    Pretty stark choice, but the animals in this home invasion were pretty clearly going to kill everybody in the house: "He said he had enough". But not before having a bit of fun with the women.

    So, to all you rabid anti-gun people out there, and to all you rabid pro-gun people out there, it is not a black and white issue, but a complex one with many shades of gray. One story in which guns were used for evil, and in which guns were used for good.

    Friday, May 8, 2009

    Gun Facts - An Amazing Resource

    I have been studying guns rights issues for about a year now, and I am astonished with myself that I have not come across this e-book before now: "Gun Facts", written by Guy Smith, is available at the Gun Facts website.

    If you want a quick reference of facts refuting common gun control myths, this book is a great resource. It has extensive footnotes to allow one to trace back the facts cited in their original context. There have been many times when writing a blog article that I remembered a good quote of fact, but could not cite a source. Gun Facts will help remedy this problem, and arm gun rights advocates with knowledge.

    Give it a read, and I guarantee you will learn something you did not know before.

    AB 962 - Not a New Idea

    AB 962, the handgun ammunition licensing and control bill now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee is not a new idea: this has been tried before at a variety of governmental levels.

    It actually used to be Federal law to record handgun ammunition purchases. The Firearms Owners Protection Act, Appendix I, established that requirement, but it was later repealed in 1986 when the BATF testified before Congress that the law was useless for fighting crime.

    The city of Pasadena, California, passed an ordinance in February, 1995, requiring handgun ammunition purchases be recorded by ammunition vendors to much praise and acclaim. But this law too was quietly repealed on August 18, 1997, after massive amounts of paper records were generated without any use to police.

    California handgun owners shoot millions of rounds of handgun ammunition every year. Go into any indoor shooting range on any given day, and it is not unusual to see a couple thousand spent cartridge cases littering the floor. AB 962 would require recording of every handgun ammunition purchase, generate mountains of paper, 99.99% of which will be useless because most will be purchased by legal shooters, and expended by the person that bought the ammunition.

    Besides, does any one think that criminals will not find a way to get ammunition if they really want it? Guns and ammunition are already illegal for felons to possess, and guns cannot be sold to felons, but they find ways of getting them. They will find ways to get ammunition as well.

    I can only see two reasons why people would think this bill is a good idea: first, they think that criminals would be cut off from ammunition if this bill passes, and, second, they think that placing one more hoop for legal gun owners to jump through, with the intent of eradicating gun ownership by sheer exhaustion, is a good idea.

    Neither of these make AB 962 a good law.

    AB 962 - Referred to Appropriations Suspense File

    AB 962, the handgun ammunition licensing and control bill, has been heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and has been referred to the suspense file. It thus joins a growing batch of bills whose fate will be voted upon at a future session.

    The current status of the bill:


    MEASURE : A.B. No. 962
    AUTHOR(S) : De Leon (Coauthor: Bonnie Lowenthal).
    TOPIC : Ammunition.

    Majority Vote Required
    State-Mandated Local Program
    Non-Tax Levy

    LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 05/06/2009
    LAST HIST. ACTION : In committee: Set, first hearing. Referred to APPR.
    suspense file.

    TITLE : An act to amend Sections 11106 and 12316 of, to add
    Sections 12317 and 12318 to, to add Article 3.5
    (commencing with Section 12060) to Chapter 1 of, to add
    a heading for Chapter 2.6 (commencing with Section
    12316) to, and to repeal the heading of Chapter 2.6
    (commencing with Section 12320) of, Title 2 of Part 4 of
    the Penal Code, relating to ammunition.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    Court Challenge to California CCW Law

    Alan Gura, lead attorney of last year's landmark Heller case, has been very busy in California. Today he filed a lawsuit (Sykes et al., v. McGuiness et al.) challenging the California CCW law, specifically the "good moral character" and the "good cause" provisions of California PC 12050:

    3. Declaratory relief that the “good moral character” and “good cause” provisions of
    California Penal Code § 12050 are unconstitutional either on their face and/or as applied to bar applicants who are otherwise legally qualified to possess firearms and who assert self-defense as their “good cause” for seeking a handgun carry permit;
    Whatever else one might say about Mr. Gura, he does not lack for courage. I do not know what chances there are for this law to be declared unconstitutional, but these two cases in California will be fascinating to watch over the comming months.

    I am including a special link list on my sidebar to track events in this case.

    AB 962 - Appropriations Committee Hearing May 6, 2009

    The Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to have a hearing on the merits of AB 962, a bill introducing sweeping new regulations on the sale of handgun ammunition. Most importantly it would require all sales to be made in face-to-face transactions, and that records be kept including the identity of the purchaser, the amount of ammunition purchased, and type of ammunition purchased.

    Private transfers of ammunition in amount greater than 50 rounds would be prohibited by all by licensed ammunition vendors.

    The hearing is scheduled for May 6, 2009. It is now time to contact the members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee to lodge opposition to this bill. The following lists the members of the committee.
    De León (Chair) (D-45), 
    Nielsen (Vice Chair) (R-2),
    Ammiano (D-13) ,
    Calderon (D-58),
    Davis (D-48),
    Duvall (R-72),
    Fuentes (D-39),
    Hall (D-52),
    Harkey (R-73),
    Miller (R-71),
    J. Pérez (D-46),
    Price (D-51),
    Skinner (D-14),
    Solorio (D-69),
    Strickland (R-37),
    Torlakson (D-11)

    This bill is of course intended to keep ammunition out of the hands of criminals, but it remains to be proved that the new purchase restrictions would actually have that effect. Felons are already prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, but they have then anyway. This bill simply makes something that is illegal even more illegal, while mostly impacting law-abiding gun owners. Criminals already have trade networks in place for importation and sale of illegal goods (drugs, guns), and would have no problems adding ammunition to the mix.

    Ammunition purchases over the internet would be prohibited. The increased regulations and required record keeping will increase the price of ammunition. Some ammunition vendors may stop selling ammunition. Many chain stores that sell ammunition in other states, notably Wall-Mart, do not sell ammunition in Santa Clara County, and others that do, like Big 5 Sporting Goods, may stop as a result.

    I think we should demand that lawmakers present a viable proof that this bill would impact violent crime, and if they cannot, then it should be voted down.

    Lovelle Mixon - Not a Hero, nor a Martyr

    I the wake of the killing of four Oakland officers by Lovelle Mixon, there was the usual bleating about police brutality and excess, simultaneous vilification of the Oakland PD while mourning the saintly Mixon.

    It seems to be the standard narrative in the Back community: police are always bad, quick to beat down strong black men, to keep them in their place. Of course the faults of the victims must never be mentioned. You can watch a memorial march in Oakland honoring Lovelle Mixon here.

    It is shocking to me to hear these people characterize Mixon as a "hero" and a "soldier". It is also a load of crap. I knew on they day he was killed, and now, everyone can know it as well.

    This article at describes some results of the continuing investigation of the entire incident. It turns out that Mixon was a rapist. He had raped two women at gunpoint earlier that same day. He is also be investigated for raping as many as five other women in East Oakland, and for a home invasion robbery.

    As quoted in the article:

    "It doesn't change what happened," he said. "All it says is, to his supporters - this is who you're supporting. Congratulations for supporting a monster."
    A monster indeed, not a hero, nor a martyr.

    SB 776 - Large Capacity Magazine Registration

    In the wake of Lovelle Mixon shooting four Oakland police officers to death, gun control advocates were faced with the following conundrum: current gun laws in California are some of the strictest in the nation, but they obviously failed to keep Mixon from obtaining firearms. What to do? How to make something even more illegal than it is already?

    Senator Loni Hancock thinks she has found a way: registration of large capacity magazines. All magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition will have to be registered with the state.
    Large capacity magazines are not illegal to possess, provided you obtained them prior to January 1, 2000, but they cannot be imported into California. This bill changes that and makes possession of unregistered magazines a crime.

    Why this bill makes no sense: possession of the rifle Mixon used to kill the Oakland officers was also illegal. Not only are felons not allowed to have any handgun, ammunition, or magazines (of any capacity), assault weapons are banned in California.

    But Mixon had one anyway.

    But if we ban possession of large capacity magazines, this will somehow prevent guys like Mixon from getting them, protecting our officers.

    Great plan Senator Hancock?

    Monday, May 4, 2009

    California Assembly - What is the "suspense file"?

    This post has been one of the most read of any in my blog, so I have updated it for my readers.

    Update --- May, 2013

    With all of the anti-gun bills wending their way through the legislature, many people winder what the status "placed in suspense file" meant. I did a little searching and found this from the rules of the California State Senate:

    Suspense File

    The committee, by a majority of the members present and voting, shall refer to the Suspense File all bills that would have a fiscal impact in any single fiscal year from the General Fund or from private funds of $50,000 or more.  Bills that establish a pilot project or program shall be referred to the Suspense File if the statewide implementation of the project or program would result in a fiscal impact of $50,000 or more in any single fiscal year from the General Fund or private funds.
     The committee, by a majority of the members present and voting, shall refer to the Suspense File all bills that would have a fiscal impact in any single fiscal year from any account(s) or fund(s) of $150,000 or more.  Bills that establish a pilot project or program shall be referred to the Suspense File if the statewide implementation of the project or program would result in a fiscal impact of $150,000 or more in any single fiscal year from any account(s) or fund(s).
     For purposes of the above paragraphs, “fiscal impact” shall include cost increases, cost pressures, revenue decreases, increases in appropriations subject to limitation that are restricted in their use and result from increases in tax proceeds, and reductions in the State’s appropriations limit.
     This provision shall not apply to deficiency or supplemental appropriations bills authored by the chair of the Senate or the Assembly Budget Committee or claims or judgments and settlements bills authored by the chair of the Senate or the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
    Upon two days’ notice in the Senate File, the chair may place before the committee a bill on the Suspense File.
    A bill placed on the Suspense File may only be moved to Second Reading by an action of the committee.

    The California State Assembly also has a suspense file, for which the rules in the Appropriations Committee are similar:


    All bills with a fiscal impact in any fiscal year of $150,000 or more will, by a majority of members present and voting, a quorum being present, move to the Suspense File. "Fiscal impact" includes all fund sources.
    Authors should present all witnesses and testimony at the time of the bill’s first hearing, even if the bill’s provisions indicate a likely referral to Suspense. Authors may waive their right to presentation.
    Suspense bills will be heard at a hearing that normally follows passage of the budget bill. When the bills are placed on the committee’s agenda as "From Suspense File – For Vote Only," no testimony will be taken and the authors need not be present.

    In each house the suspense file as a collection of bills that would cost the state more than $50,000 from the General Fund, or $150,000 from any source. At a future meeting of the Appropriation Committee, all bills in the suspense file are then voted on by the committee member one after another, quickly going through the possibly hundreds of bills in the file.  typically, the suspense file is revisited after the budget is passed, so the Senate can know which funds are available to implement new programs.

    So the status "suspense file" is real, and it does not mean that the bill is suspended or dead.

    Saturday, May 2, 2009

    AB 585 - What is the bill status?

    Below is the status of SB 585, the bill that would ban firearm sales at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, probably ending gun shows at that venue:


    MEASURE : S.B. No. 585
    AUTHOR(S) : Leno.
    TOPIC : Agricultural District 1-A: firearm sales at
    the Cow Palace.

    Majority Vote Required
    State-Mandated Local Program
    Non-Tax Levy

    LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 04/27/2009
    LAST HIST. ACTION : Placed on APPR suspense file.

    TITLE : An act to add Section 4132 to the Food and
    Agricultural Code, relating to Agricultural District

    Let direct your attention to the phrase "Placed on APPR suspense file." and ask a question: what is a suspense file? Is that possibly a typographical error, really meant to be "suspend file". Can anyone share with us the status of this bill?

    Side Note: I am going to the Crossroads of the West gun show at the Cow Palace today. It might be one of the last chances to go to a gun show in the Bay Area.

    Behind the Times - D.C. Handgun Lawsuit

    When I created this site I made a conscious decision to focus on issues that effect California, letting other bloggers comment on events in their own states. That is why you will not see me write about gun control legislation proposed in Albany, New York. When the Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the new D.C. handgun law, I thought that would be a local matter, and declined to pay any attention about it.

    I was wrong to do so.

    I have learned that D.C. has adopted, as part of their handgun regulation, California's Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. The Second Amendment Foundation, correctly in my view, see the Roster as a handgun ban scheme, and sued, using the recent Heller decision as legal basis for the suit.

    Since the Roster is the heart of the D.C. handgun law, if it is struck down as unconstitutional in that case, that ruling will have an effect on the California case, because both cases have been brought before courts where the 2nd Amendment is recognized as an individual right.

    I have created special areas on my side-bar where I will post links to case documents for both cases.

    Legislative Alert - AB 962 Passed Out

    AB 962, a bill that would create new regulations on the sale of ammunition, one effect of which would be to prohibit sales of ammunition over the Internet, has passed out of the Committee on Public Safety, and has been referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

    This means that this bill has cleared an important hurdle to becoming law, passing its initial committee hearing, and will not be under serious consideration for being brought to the assembly floor. Time to write to the Appropriations committee members to oppose this bill.


    MEASURE : A.B. No. 962
    AUTHOR(S) : De Leon (Coauthor: Bonnie Lowenthal).
    TOPIC : Ammunition.

    Majority Vote Required
    State-Mandated Local Program
    Non-Tax Levy

    LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 04/22/2009
    LAST HIST. ACTION : From committee: Do pass, and
    re-refer to Com. on APPR.
    Re-referred. (Ayes 5. Noes 2.) (April 21).
    HEARING DATE : 05/06/2009

    TITLE : An act to amend Sections 11106 and 12316 of,
    to add Sections 12317 and 12318 to, to add Article 3.5
    (commencing with Section 12060) to Chapter 1 of,
    to add a heading for Chapter 2.6 (commencing with Section
    12316) to, and to repeal the heading of Chapter 2.6
    (commencing with Section 12320) of, Title 2 of Part 4
    of the Penal Code, relating to ammunition.

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    Lawsuit Challenges California DOJ Handgun Roster

    The Second Amendment Foundation
    and Calguns Foundation have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the California Department of Justice Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale.

    For the benefit of readers located outside of California, California permits only handguns that have passed certain safety tests. A description of the requirements for handguns may be found here. Manufacturers must submit firearms for testing and pay a fee to get a firearm on the list, adding additional cost to marketing a product in California. If a manufacturer decides not to submit a pistol for testing, then it is "unsafe" and may not be sold in California.

    This lawsuit challenges this approval process by characterizing it as a de-facto ban on those handguns not submitted or listed. As noted in the Calguns Foundation press release:

    Co-counsel Jason Davis remarked, "The California Handgun Roster has always been about making the possession of handguns for self defense more difficult by imposing arbitrary and unconstitutional restrictions that limit choice and increase the cost of exercising a fundamental right."

    This is indeed true, as can be seen by the Microstamping law California passed, which I described in more detail here. Microstamping ability will be added to the safety requirements of handguns sold in the state, but I fail to see how microstamping make a handgun "safer" to operate.

    While it will take a loong time, the journey of this lawsuit through the courts will be interesting and important. It is not the lawsuit I would have expected after the Ninth Circuit ruled in 2nd Amendment Incorporation, but it will be an important case helping to define the limits of gun control in the post-Heller United States.