The recent ruling in the District of Southern California has brought a significant change to California’s ammunition purchase rules. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez’s decision to eliminate mandatory in-person background checks for every ammo purchase has sparked a major shift in the state’s regulations, aligning it more closely with the rest of the nation. Judge Benitez deemed these checks unconstitutional and ineffective, leading to a surge in rejection rates for law-abiding buyers. With a large number of legitimate buyers being denied and only a small fraction actually on the prohibited list, the ruling has completely transformed the landscape of ammunition sales in the Golden State. This decision has opened up new avenues of freedom ammunition for Californians, marking a significant departure from the stringent regulations that were previously in place.
PRESS RELEASE: ROB BONTA Attorney General
California’s Attorney General, Rob Bonta, has declared his plans to contest a district court ruling that invalidated the state’s ammunition laws, designated by Proposition 63 and amended by SB 1235. These laws require face-to-face transactions at licensed ammunition vendors, background checks for ammunition sales, proof of legal residency in the country, and the reporting of specific information to the California Department of Justice.
Emphasizing the significance of these laws in safeguarding Californians and reducing gun-related deaths and injuries in communities, Attorney General Bonta is determined to seek an immediate stay of the district court’s decision while awaiting appeal, with the goal of maintaining these life-saving and constitutional ammunition restrictions.
The appeal will be directed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, aiming to reverse the district court’s decision and ensure that the public safety protections provided by the ammunition laws remain in place. Attorney General Bonta draws confidence from the Supreme Court’s support of state regulatory authority while emphasizing the necessity of these laws in light of the increase in self-assembled “ghost guns” that bypass traditional firearm regulations.
The legal challenge against the ammunition laws raises various issues including Second Amendment rights, the Dormant Commerce Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and federal law preemption. Despite the plaintiffs previously obtaining a preliminary injunction, the Attorney General secured a stay from the Ninth Circuit, allowing the enforcement of the laws to continue.
This legal battle comes amidst rising concerns about gun violence, linked to the upsurge in mass shootings and high numbers of gun-related deaths in the United States. California’s efforts in gun safety stand out, reflected in its significantly lower gun death rate compared to the national average.
The appeals process for California’s ammunition laws will bring to light essential considerations regarding public safety, constitutional rights, and the effective regulation of firearms and ammunition. It is poised to pave the way for broader discussions on gun control and regulation nationwide.
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