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California Ammunition Background Check Law Blocked by Federal Judge

A federal judge has blocked a law in California that would require background checks for ammunition buyers. The judge called the law “onerous and convoluted.”

Ammunition Background Check Called “Onerous and Convoluted”

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez in San Diego granted a preliminary injunction against the California rule after plaintiffs sued the state. The plaintiffs included six-time Olympic medalist skeet shooter Kim Rhode, and the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

California voters approved Proposition 63 in 2016. This included background checks along with a ban on high-capacity magazines for firearms.

Benitez halted sales of the magazines but was unequivocal in this case.

“California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” wrote Benitez.

“In this action, Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction enjoining California’s onerous and convoluted new laws requiring ammunition purchase background checks and implementing ammunition anti-importation laws.”

The judge’s argument was that legal ammo buyers would be hurt by the background checks. Further, this would do little to prevent criminals from acquiring ammunition.

“Criminals, tyrants, and terrorists don’t do background checks,” he wrote.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerr filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday to pause the ruling while he appeals.

Background Checks Went into Effect in July

When the background checks went into effect in July, California became the first state to implement such a ruling. New York came close in 2013 when they enacted ammunition screening, but it never went into effect.

There are four states who do vet ammo sales through licensing, however, including Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

“This is a devastating blow to the anti-gun-owner advocates who falsely pushed Prop 63 in the name of safety,” said Chuck Michel in a statement. Michel is the California Rifle and Pistol Association president.

“In truth, red tape and the state’s disastrous database errors made it impossible for hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Californians to purchase ammunition for sport or self-defense.”

Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a nonprofit, supports the appeal, calling the decision “unprecedented.”

“This decision is patently wrong, and we expect that it will be reversed on appeal,” said Kris Brown, the Brady president in a statement.

“The Second Amendment does not provide felons or domestic abusers with the right to buy ammunition or firearms, and it does not prevent states like California from requiring background checks.”