April 24th, 2020

California Ammo Purchase Restrictions Found Unconstitutional

Judge Benitez U.S. District Court California ammo ammunition law unconstitutional Kim Rhode Olympic shotgun gold medal

Breaking News April 25, 2020: There is a report that CA’s Attorney General has applied to the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for an Emergency STAY of the injunction issued by Judge Benitez blocking application of California’s ammunition background check system. We are working now to determine the status of the case.

Currently in California, citizens must go through a state background check to purchase ammunition — any ammunition. And for quite some time, California residents have not been able to purchase ammunition from out of state, unless the ammunition is first shipped to an approved California ammo dealer. All ammo sales must take place in-person through licensed ammunition vendors. This has all resulted in significantly increased ammo costs in California, and failure of the state’s computerized ammo check system has resulted in over 16% of legitimate purchasers being denied the right to obtain ammunition.

Now all that may change. In Rhode v. Becerra, Federal District Court Judge Roger Benitez has determined that the California ammo check system is fatally flawed and unconstitutional. On April 23, 2020, the Judge granted a temporary injunction which halts California’s ammo background check system and lifts California’s blockade of ammo imports from other states. Californians may now again purchase ammo directly from out-of-state vendors. READ Injunction Decision HERE.

Kim Rhode Olympic shotgun gold medalJudge Benitez called California’s ammunition background check law “onerous and convoluted” and “constitutionally defective”. The Judge stated that: “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”. Notably, the lead plaintiff in the case, Kim Rhode, is an Olympic Gold Medalist trap shooter, whose ability to obtain competition-grade shotshells was impaired by California’s “onerous” ammo purchase restrictions.

California’s ammo laws blocked sales to legitimate, law-abiding buyers about 16% of the time, the Judge noted. Moreover, in his 120-page Opinion, the Judge held that the state’s ban on importing ammunition from outside California violates federal interstate commerce laws.

As reported by the NRA-ILA: “The [court’s] Thursday’s injunction means the law cannot be enforced while the case is active unless the decision is stayed.”

Judge Benitez slammed California’s Ammo Check law: “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.

These new laws are constitutionally defective for several reasons. First, 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. Second, the implementing regulations systematically prohibit or deter an untold number of law-abiding California citizen-residents from undergoing the required background checks. Third, in the seven months since implementation, the standard background check rejected citizen-residents who are NOT prohibited persons approximately 16.4% of the time. Fourth, the ammunition anti-importation laws directly violate the federal dormant Commerce Clause.”

To Read Judge Benitez’s Full Opinion, CLICK HERE »

This Video analyzes the decision in Rhode v. Becerra

Constitutional Rights Must Be Preserved Even in Times of Crisis
The Judge stressed that Constitutional rights should not be sacrificed, especially in these challenging times: “Law-abiding citizens are imbued with the unalienable right to keep and bear firearms along with the ammunition to make their firearms work….. Presently, California and many other states sit in isolation under pandemic-inspired stay-at-home orders…. 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.”

Judge Benitez U.S. District Court California ammo ammunition law unconstitutional Kim Rhode Olympic shotgun gold medal

How did California politicians react to their defeat in Court? Read comments from CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other state officials in Associated Press Report reprinted by NBC Los Angeles.

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July 25th, 2019

CRPA Seeks Injunction to Halt California Ammo Restrictions

California Ammunition sales restrictions injunction rhode becerra CRPA lawsuit
Photo from Ault Ammo Depot.

Earlier this week, the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA), filed a motion requesting an injunction against enforcement of California’s recently implemented ammunition sale/purchase laws. The injunction motion is part of the Rhode v. Becerra case filed in April of 2018. That lawsuit challenges California’s new ammo sale regulations which went into effect July 1, 2019. Lead Plaintiff and Olympic Shooter Kim Rhode and other Plaintiffs have asked the court to block the new ammunition-purchase laws on Constitutional grounds, and because of myriad practical issues with the new ammo sale controls.

Basically this burdensome new law requires filling out multiple forms, paying fees, and securing Birth Certificates or other proof of citizenship (which, of course, is NOT required for voting in California).

Kim Rhode California ammo sales injunction CRPAThe NRA-ILA states: “The entire system has been shown to be an [unconstitutional] excessive burden on law-abiding gun owners with little to no law enforcement value. California ammunition retailers were given little if any guidance from the state explaining the procedures for processing ammunition sales, amounting to mass confusion throughout the state.”

We talked to Californian (and lead Plaintiff) Kim Rhode at SHOT Show. The Olympic Gold Medalist explained to us that she can no longer mail-order the high-quality shot shells she uses in Olympic and World Cup competition, and she is not able to find that ammo in California retail stores. This limits her ability to practice in California.

If the court grants the Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief, it will prohibit California from enforcing its confusing and burdensome ammunition sales restrictions while the Rhode case is fully litigated. A hearing on the motion for injunction is scheduled for August 19th, 2019. A decision is expected sometime thereafter.

Kim Rhode California ammo sales injunction CRPAThe CRPA would also like to thank the following California ammunition retailers who supported Monday’s filing by providing declarations regarding the effect California’s ammunition sales restrictions have had on their businesses:

Turner’s Outdoorsman (27 CA locations)
LAX Ammunition OC (Huntington Beach)
Norco Armory (Norco)
Foothill Ammo (Shingle Springs)
Guns, Fishing and Other Stuff (Vacaville)
Royal Loan (San Diego)
Mosquito Creek Outfitters (Placerville)
Discount Gun Mart (San Diego and Santee)

The lawsuit is also supported by out-of-state retailers who are banned from shipping ammunition directly to California citizens, based on the provisions of the new legislation. These include Able’s Ammo (Texas), and Ammunition Depot (Florida).

Stand and Fight in California
Visit the NRA-ILA California Stand and Fight web-page for updates on the Rhode v. Becerra case as well as other issues impacting Second Amendment rights in California.

California Ammunition sales restrictions injunction rhode becerra CRPA lawsuit

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