July 15th, 2010

Lawsuit Filed Challenging California’s Mail-Order Ammo Ban

handgun pistol ammunition AB 962When misguided legislators pass bad laws, sometimes the only thing to do is fight back — in court. We’re pleased to announce that two businesses and a USMC Veteran have filed suit in Federal District Court to strike down California’s AB 962. Passed last fall by California’s liberal-dominated Legislature, AB 962 would effectively ban mail-order sales of handgun ammunition in California. And, as the law is written, this restriction would include rifle ammunition that can be used in pistols. AB 962 would not only restrict the flow of ammunition into California from outside the state, but it would also prevent California ammunition-makers from selling their products to customers outside California.

The legal challenge to AB 962 relies primarily on the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution delegates to the Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce. Because Congress has been given power over interstate commerce, states cannot unduly burden interstate commerce. AB 962 runs afoul of the Commerce Clause because it effectively prohibits direct, intra-state shipment of ammunition to Californians. AB 962 also, arguably, blocks California ammo-makers from selling their goods to residents outside of California. Just imagine if New York passed a law barring Dell from shipping computers to New Yorkers, or if Florida blocked L.L. Bean from selling boots and clothing to Floridians. You can bet that Dell and L.L. Bean would unleash a battalion of lawyers to fight such legislation.

handgun pistol ammunition AB 962The two business plaintiffs, State Ammunition Inc. of Ventura, California, and A1Ammo of Minnesota, argue that AB 962 effectively prohibits them from conducting their business in interstate Commerce. State Ammunition alleges that: “StateAmmo.com will be unable to sell ammunition to purchasers in 49 other states, resulting in an immediate and devastating loss of income, business growth, good will and customers.” Likewise, A1Ammo asserts that it will “suffer irreparable harm” because AB 962 prohibits it from selling ammunition to customers in California. Plaintiffs also argue that AB 962 violates Equal Protection and Due Process rights by criminalizing sales of handgun ammunition to various prohibited persons without defining handgun ammunition, and without giving people to ability to know who is actually a prohibited purchaser.

Elimination of Mail-Order Sales Harms Organized Shooting Programs
A third plaintiff in the suit, retired Marine Corps Major Jim Russell of Fallbrook, California, asserts that AB 962 will interfere with legitimate shooting activities with no meaningful benefit to California. Russell, the Shooting Sports Director for the Paralyzed Veterans Association of America, claims that, as a result of AB962, he will be unable to purchase bulk handgun ammunition online which he uses to help disabled veterans with rehabilitative organized shooting activities.

handgun pistol ammunition AB 962Part of the new law is already operative — a requirement that pistol ammunition be keep behind counters rather than placed on open shelves. The more onerous parts of the law — the actual restrictions on sales — are slated to go into effect February 1, 2011. These provisions requires retail sellers to do background checks, take thumbprints, and check IDs of customers. This applies to “handgun ammunition” but that term is not clearly defined by AB 962. State Ammunition’s owner, Kevin Chaffin, who is also an attorney, explains that: “Vendors are required to guess what is or is not considered handgun ammunition, then after that guess is made, they are required to somehow determine the subjective intent of the ammunition purchaser.” Chaffin added that the law has already cut into his business, though all its provision are not yet effective: “Even the existence of the law is hampering business because so many people around the country have given up on California”.

CLICK HERE for Copy of Complaint in State Ammunition v Lindley.

Similar Posts:

Tags: , , , , ,