January 18th, 2011

California Mail-Order Ammo Restriction Ruled Unconstitutional

Report by C.D. Michel
In a dramatic ruling giving gun owners a win in an National Rifle Association / California Rifle and Pistol (CRPA) Foundation lawsuit, this morning Fresno Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton ruled that AB 962, the hotly contested statute that would have banned mail order ammunition sales and required all purchases of so-called “handgun ammunition” to be registered, was unconstitutionally vague on its face.

The trial Court enjoined enforcement of the statute, so mail order ammunition sales to California can continue unabated, and ammunition sales need not be registered under the law.

The lawsuit was prompted in part by the many objections and questions raised by confused police, ammunition purchasers, and sellers about what ammunition is covered by the new laws created by AB 962. In a highly unusual move that reflects growing law enforcement opposition to ineffective gun control laws, Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. Other plaintiffs include the CRPA Foundation, Herb Bauer Sporting Goods, ammunition shipper Able’s Ammo, collectible ammunition shipper RTG Sporting Collectibles, and individual Steven Stonecipher. Mendocino Sheriff Tom Allman also supported the lawsuit.

The ruling comes just days before the portion of the law that bans mail order sales of so-called “handgun ammunition” was set to take effect on February 1, 2011. The lawsuit, Parker v. California, is funded exclusively by the NRA and the CRPA Foundation. If it had gone into effect, AB 962 would have imposed burdensome and ill-conceived restrictions on the sales of ammunition. AB 962 required that “handgun ammunition” be stored out of the reach of customers, that ammunition vendors collect ammunition sales registration information and thumb-prints from purchasers, and conduct transactions face-to-face for all deliveries and transfers of “handgun ammunition.” The lawsuit successfully sought the declaration from the Court that the statute was unconstitutional, and successfully sought the injunctive relief prohibiting law enforcement from enforcing the new laws.

Trial Court Agrees that Ammo Ban is Unconstitutionally Vague
The lawsuit alleged, and the Court agreed, that AB 962 is unconstitutionally vague on its face because it fails to provide sufficient legal notice of what ammunition cartridges are “principally for use in a handgun,” and thus is considered “handgun ammunition” that is regulated under AB 962. It is practically impossible, both for those subject to the law and for those who must enforce it, to determine whether any of the thousands of different types of ammunition cartridges that can be used in handguns are actually “principally for use in” or used more often in, a handgun. The proportional usage of any given cartridge is impossible to determine, and in any event changes with market demands.

Decision Will Probably Be Appealed but Law Will Still Be Suspended
Constitutional vagueness challenges to state laws are extremely difficult to win, particularly in California firearms litigation, so this success is particularly noteworthy. Even so, an appeal by the State is likely, but the Court’s Order enjoining enforcement of the law is effective immediately, regardless [of the possibility of appeal]. Editor’s Note: An injunction against the application of AB 962s provision will remain in effect until such time as it is vacated by an appellate court. But for the time being, mail-order ammo sales to California can proceed without restriction, as if AB 962 were never signed into law. Until a higher court rules otherwise, the contested provisions of AB 962 are rendered a nullity.

This report provided by C.D. Michel Michel of Michel & Associates, counsel for the NRA in the litigation challenging the California mail-order ammo ban.

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January 18th, 2011

MEDIA Day — Some Interesting New Products

Media Day at the Boulder City, Nevada range was a blast — literally. We had a chance to sample some big .338 Lapua Magnum rifles from Barrett and Sako. The recoil on the Sako TRG42 was epic, as it lacked a muzzle brake, and the front sandbag did nothing to tame rearward movement. We’ll provide more info on the TRG42 (and its new folding stock) later this week.

New Tikka T3 Sporter — Master Sporter Reborn
Tikka unveiled an interesting new T3 Sporter, fitted out in a handsome laminated position stock. This seems to be the successor to Tikka’s popular (but long since discontinued) Master Sporter series. We only hope Beretta, Tikka’s parent company, will eventually offer a wider selection of calibers — right now Beretta only plans to sell .223 Rem and 22-250 versions in the USA.

New Tikka T3 Sporter
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MRAD is Impressive — and Brutally Expensive
Barrett’s new MRAD “adaptible” rifle was an impressive beast — as it should be at $6000.00 per unit. It did display some very clever engineering that allows a user to switch barrels and even change calibers with no gunsmithing. Check out the video for a review of the many unique features of the MRAD.

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Crosman’s Computer-Controlled Airgun
Perhaps the most innovative (or at least technologically advanced) rifle on display wasn’t officially a “firearm” at all. Crosman’s new Benjamin Rogue, pneumatic varmint rifle actually has a microprocessor-controlled “fire control” system. Yes this state-of-the-art airgun actually has an internal computer that monitors the available air pressure, and sets the output level according to the bullet weight and desired velocity. This is no Daisy B-B gun — the Rogue is big and bulky. But it also delivers the hitting power of a 38 Special, all without a single kernel of gunpowder. Crosman’s Rogue will launch a 145gr polymer-tipped Nosler bullet at 850 fps. Just run the numbers and you’ll find the Rogue delivers as much terminal energy as many centerfire pistol cartridges.

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Polymer Cartridge Casings from PCP
A Florida-based company, PCP Ammunition, unveiled a truly revolutionary product — polymer-cased ammo. The “cartridges” have a metal rim/base section (like shotgun shells) but nearly all the cartridge body is a tan-colored high-strength polymer. No, this product won’t do reloders much good, but it could be a huge “hit” with the military, as a polymer case is at least 25% lighter than brass. PCP Reps claimed that PCP’s plastic-bodied ammo can withstand loads that would be considered “full presure” in conventional brass. Stay tuned for further updates.

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January 18th, 2011

Barry Dueck’s 3-Gun Sighting Solutions

During Media Day we kept our eyes out for new multi-gun gear, since 3-Gun Competition is becoming so popular. At the Surefire booth we ran into 3-Gun Ace Barry Dueck (pronouned “Duke”). Barry demonstrated the side-mounted iron sights he produces for AR-type carbines (actually these sights can work on any rifle that has suitable rails).

Running a combination of a magnified, 1-5X Leupold on top with iron sight mouted at a 45-degree angle on the sides, Dueck can rapidly transition from optics to irons. The top scope works great for longer shots, but Dueck finds he can engage close targets more quickly (and accurately) with the iron sights. While some other 3-gunners run a magnified optic on top and a red dot sight on the side, the use of two (2) glass optics puts a 3-gun competitor in a different division. Dueck’s Rapid Transition Sight (RTS) System, allows him to compete in the single-optics classes. The side-mounted irons are also more foolproof than any electronic sight, as Dueck explains in the video below.

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