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Federal Judge Shoots Down California Law Requiring Background Checks For Ammo

"The Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” Judge Robert Benitez said.

San Diego, CA – A federal judge has shot down a California law requiring citizens to pass background checks before they are allowed to purchase ammunition.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Benitez in San Diego called the state’s law “onerous and convoluted” before he granted a preliminary injunction in favor of a lawsuit filed by the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) and six-time Olympic medalist shooting champion Kim Rhode, NBC News reported.

Californians voted for Proposition 63 in 2016, thereby banning “high-capacity magazines” and mandating background checks for ammunition sales.

The checks have been in effect since July of 2019.

Benitez issued his 120-page opinion on the ruling on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

“The experiment has been tried. The casualties have been counted. California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” he wrote.

“In this action, Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction enjoining California’s onerous and convoluted new laws requiring ammunition purchase background checks and implementing ammunition anti-importation laws,” Benitez said, according to NBC News.

He argued that background checks negatively affect legal ammunition buyers, but that they essentially do nothing to stop criminals from getting their hands on rounds.

“Criminals, tyrants and terrorists don’t do background checks,” the judge noted.

The coronavirus pandemic also serves as a reminder for why the right to bear arms is paramount, he continued.

“Presently, California and many other states sit in isolation under pandemic-inspired stay-at-home orders,” Benitez wrote, according to The Washington Free Beacon. “Schools, parks, beaches, and countless non-essential businesses are closed. Courts are limping by while police make arrests for only the more serious crimes.”

“Maintaining Second Amendment rights are especially important in times like these. Keeping vigilant is necessary in both bad times and good, for if we let these rights lapse in the good times, they might never be recovered in time to resist the next appearance of criminals, terrorists, or tyrants,” the judge opined.

CRPA President Chuck Michel praised Benitez’ decision in a statement on Thursday.

“This is a devastating blow to the anti-gun-owner advocates who falsely pushed Prop 63 in the name of safety,” Michel wrote. “In truth, red tape and the state’s disastrous database errors made it impossible for hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Californians to purchase ammunition for sport or self-defense.”

“The court found that the flimsy reasons offered by the government to justify these constitutional infringements were inadequate,” he added, according to the Associated Press. “Californians can sleep a little easier tonight knowing their Constitutional rights were restored and strengthened by this decision.”

Kris Brown, president of the Brady: United Against Gun Violence nonprofit group, said he believes the ruling will be appealed, NBC News reported.

“This decision is patently wrong, and we expect that it will be reversed on appeal,” Brown declared. “The Second Amendment does not provide felons or domestic abusers with the right to buy ammunition or firearms, and it does not prevent states like California from requiring background checks.”

The state’s attorney general’s office said it is still reviewing Benitez’s ruling, according to the Associated Press.

Holly Matkin - April Fri, 2020


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