‘If the state objective is to make it … impossible for its law-abiding citizens to purchase protected ammunition, then this law appears to be well-drafted…’
With the passage of Proposition 63 and Senate Bill 1235 in 2016, Californians mandated that all ammunition buyers must pass a federal background check through a licensed ammunition vendor, reported the National Rifle Association‘s Institute for Legislative Action.
The law also prohibits online purchases of ammunition.
In Rhode v. Becerra, Judge Roger T. Benitez gave four reasons for granting a preliminary injunction that prevents the state “from implementing or enforcing the ammunition sales background check provisions.”
First, he wrote that “criminals, tyrants, and terrorists don’t do background checks,” while the restrictions “unduly and severely [burden] the Second Amendment rights” of gun owners.
Second, he wrote that “the implementing regulations systematically prohibit or deter an untold number of law-abiding California citizen–residents from undergoing the required background checks.”
Third, he wrote that California’s background check system has denied 16.4 percent of citizens the right to purchase ammunition who “are not prohibited persons.”
Fourth, he wrote that California does not have the authority to restrict interstate commerce. The anti-importation provision violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The regulations on interstate ammunition sales took effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
The background-check law took effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
Benitez is the same judge who ruled against California’s ban on gun magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets.
“If the state objective is to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for its law-abiding citizens to purchase protected ammunition, then this law appears to be well-drafted,” Benitez wrote in his decision.
The plaintiff in the case, Kim Rhode, is an Olympic medalist who competes in skeet and double-trap shooting events, which require a lot of ammunition.
In the lawsuit, Rhode said California’s restrictions infringed on her right to buy the ammunition that she needs.