Friday, April 24, 2020

Major Victory: California Ammunition Background Check Enjoined

Rhode v. Becerra (S.D. Cal. 2020).  Preliminary injunction against enforcement of California's ammunition background check system.  Devastating decision on Second Amendment grounds that also explains the very complex procedure for buying ammunition, and not only why it unnecessarily burdens the rights of law-abiding citizens through complexity, at least in part because California now issues driver's licenses to illegal aliens:
Before a person can go through the main gate and start a background test, he
or she must prove citizenship. By itself, a standard California driver’s license or
identification card is not good enough to prove citizenship. If a person is relying on
only his driver’s license to buy ammunition, he needs a new California REAL ID compliant driver’s license (“DL”) or identification card (“ID”). Obtaining a REALID
card from the Department of Motor Vehicles requires more proof of citizenship
than the standard California card. California made two important changes to its DL
and ID in 2018. In January 2018, California began issuing REAL IDs to qualified
residents. Def.’s Opp’n, Doc. 34, at 8. At the same time, standard California DLs
and IDs started being labeled with a phrase, “Federal Limits Apply” (“FLA”) in the
right corner. The FLA label distinguishes standard California DLs and IDs from
REAL ID-compliant cards. All of this would be beside the point if it were not for
two more California choices.

One California choice complicating the picture is a 2013 state law known as
AB 60. Among other things, AB 60 directed the Department of Motor Vehicles to
issue California DLs to aliens who may be unlawfully present in the United States and reside in California.... To emphasize the point, all standard California driver’s licenses now look exactly the same, whether issued to a citizenresident or to an unlawfully present alien.
 The judge also points out that while Cal. DOJ still asserts that illegal aliens may not buy ammunition:
As California has declared itself a “sanctuary” state, it is not immediately clear what state or local officials would or could do if they did discover an alien unlawfully present attempting to acquire ammunition.
The system even fails to correctly identify prohibited persons, with 16% of citizens rejected from ammunition background check for various bureaucratic reasons (address mismatches, no firearms purchase in the last couple decades).  These can be fixed, very slowly with great effort, including notarization of the form.  In at least one case it took more than three months.

Those rejected were .030%.
There, 570 would-be purchasers were identified as “prohibited persons” (felons, fugitives, violent misdemeanants, etc.) and denied ammunition.  See Third Morales Declaration, Doc. 53, at ¶11. These are the people the laws are designed to stop. Unfortunately, once again, the Basic background check also rejected 342 other law-abiding citizen residents that the laws were not designed to stop.
And the one sure way to buy ammunition is to buy a gun.
The State suggests that an alternative option for buying ammunition is to purchase a new firearm....  Apparently, the idea is to encourage a resident to purchase a firearm as well as ammunition.
Yes, a gun control law that encourages gun purchase.

I return to same question that has bothered me all along.  If your gun control law works to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill, why do you need ammunition control as well?  The goal was clearly to make law-abiding gun owners give up their guns or leave California.

If you live in California, place your bulk purchase order from one of the bulk ammo sellers in the upper right corner of my blog now.  I am sure the state will appeal this and find some judge who likes this bureaucratic disaster to overturn it.

And the 9th Circuit has stayed the injunction pending a deep search of where the Sun doesn't shine for an excuse to  overturn this injunction?


  1. I'll wager that CA will argue that a .030% rejection rate shows that the regulation is not onerous at all. If they do lose then they'll just pass another set of hoops to jump through.

    As for the Real ID law, isn't that a federal law? It would be hard to sue CA for pretending to comply with it under certain, cherry picked, situations. When it comes to immigration they'll say that is a federal issue and they'll technically be right.

    It is still pretty obvious that they're going after the law abiding over their civil rights while throwing mud at federal laws. It is kind of hard to have it both ways and be taken seriously.

  2. I heard that people were rushing out to buy cheap guns in order to qualify for ammunition purchases. The state wouldn't know about their good guns, and if there was a future confiscation, only the junk gun would be seized.