LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge on Monday blocked key provisions of a California law that severely restricts the sale of new handguns in the state, saying parts of the legislation violate the Second Amendment.
A lawsuit against the law was filed last year by the California Rifle & Pistol Association and other gun rights advocates following a landmark 2022 US Supreme Court decision that set new standards for evaluating gun restrictions. Weapons. The ruling left many laws aimed at regulating and limiting the sale and use of guns — in California and nationwide — at risk of being shot down.
US District Court Judge Cormac Carney, sitting in Santa Ana, wrote on Monday that California’s requirements for new handguns are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. Because of these restrictions, Carney wrote, no new semi-automatic handgun models have been approved for sale since 2013, and Californians are forced to buy older and potentially less safe models.
He issued a preliminary injunction that goes into effect in two weeks, meaning the state would have to stop enforcing the law. The delay gives the state Justice Department time to file an appeal.
“The fact of the matter is that California’s gun safety laws save lives, and California’s Unsafe Handgun Act is no exception,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “We will continue to lead efforts to promote and defend California’s gun safety laws. As we move forward to determine next steps in this case, Californians should know that this injunction has not gone into effect and that California’s important gun safety requirements related to the Unsafe Handgun Act remain in effect.
In California, state law requires new pistols to have three components: a chamber load indicator, which shows whether the pistol is loaded; a magazine disconnect mechanism that will stop firing the pistol if the magazine is not inserted correctly; and microstamping capabilities so law enforcement can more easily connect spent shell casings to the guns from which they were fired.
“No handgun available in the world has all three of these characteristics,” Judge wrote. “These regulations are having a devastating impact on Californians’ ability to acquire and use new, state-of-the-art handguns.”
Older handguns have been placed on what is known as a “roster,” or a list of handguns that pass a safety test under state law known as the Unsafe Handgun Act.
“Californians have a constitutional right to acquire and use state-of-the-art handguns to protect themselves,” he wrote. “They shouldn’t have to settle for ten-year-old handgun models to ensure they stay safe in or out of the house.”
Previous attempts to challenge the state law, filed before last year’s Supreme Court ruling, have failed.
Chuck Michel, head of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, said the three requirements were “impossible to meet.”
“For decades this ‘roster’ law has deprived law-abiding citizens of the right to choose a handgun that fits their individual needs,” he wrote in a statement Monday. “If we can keep this great Second Amendment victory, people will be able to choose from thousands of the newest, best, and safest handguns being made today.”
Only New York also has a similar microstamping requirement, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, hailed the preliminary injunction in a statement Monday.
“For too long, the Second Amendment has been significantly violated by elected officials who have taken every opportunity to put roadblocks on law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said Lawrence Keane, Vice President organization seniors. “The order is the first step in what will be a long legal battle, but it’s a significant victory.”
Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst of Washington, DC contributed.