(UnitedVoice.com) – On Thursday, April 23, a federal judge sharply rebuked a California law requiring those who buy gun ammunition to get a background check with each purchase. US District Judge Roger Benitez said the law violated the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and that it was burdensome and overbearing. In 2019, Benitez struck down another California law that banned high-capacity magazines.
This new law required those who were in the state’s firearm background check database to pay a $1 fee every time they purchased ammunition. Some had the option of buying a long-term license under certain circumstances. Buyers couldn’t have specific criminal convictions or mental health-related commitments at hospitals or mental health care facilities.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in court filings that 750 criminals were prevented from buying ammunition for their guns under the law from July 2019 through January 2020. However, that didn’t persuade the judge. He called the law “onerous and convoluted”.
The ruling comes out of a lawsuit filed by the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) after voters approved the law in 2016. The execution of the law went into effect last July. New York passed a similar law, but it never went into effect. Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey require background checks to obtain firearms or ammunition licenses that must be shown when purchasing bullets.
Judge Scolds Law
Benitez said that, in his opinion, the law was not only “constitutionally defective,” it served no practical purpose other than to dissuade law-abiding Americans. He added, “Criminals, tyrants, and terrorists don’t do background checks. The background check experiment defies common sense while unduly and severely burdening the Second Amendment rights of every responsible, gun-owning citizen desiring to lawfully buy ammunition.”
The law also banned the import of ammunition from outside California. The judge ruled that the state’s ban violated federal interstate commerce laws. While attempting to block ammunition from criminals, the law had the same effect on some law-abiding citizens. During the trial, it was revealed that responsible citizens were prevented from buying ammunition approximately 16% of the time.
Responses to the Ruling
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was a strong supporter of the law before becoming governor. His spokeswoman said the governor was disappointed by the decision and was considering the next steps. The state attorney general’s office was reviewing the order but did not say if they would appeal or seek a stay of the order.
The CRPA’s attorney, Chuck Michel, said the red tape and errors in the database made it challenging for law-abiding citizens to purchase ammo for self-defense or sports. He also said that the state’s arguments for infringing on Constitutional rights were inadequate. Michel expects that the state to appeal the ruling.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
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