Gun Rights Group Begins Challenge of New California Laws
SANTA ANA (AP) — The first in a series of challenges targeting new California gun laws prompted by the San Bernardino terror attack has been lodged by a state affiliate of the National Rifle Association.
A lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Santa Ana by the California Rifle and Pistol Association challenges a prohibition on the sale of semi-automatic rifles equipped with so-called bullet buttons that allow quick removal and replacement of ammunition magazines.
“It criminalizes possession of firearms which are commonly possessed for lawful purposes by law-abiding citizens for self- defense or shooting sports,” Chuck Michel, a Long Beach attorney for the gun rights groups, told the Los Angeles Times.
The laws were passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in response to the 2015 terrorist shooting in San Bernardino in which weapons including AR-15 rifles were used to kill 14 people. They include a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Michel said the NRA plans five lawsuits against the laws.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon predicted that the laws would withstand any legal challenge.
“Background checks and other guns laws California has enacted have saved lives and are key in making our mortality rate one of the lowest in the nation,” the Los Angeles Democrat said in a statement. “I am confident that the courts will reject the NRA’s arguments, just as our voters did in November, and uphold California’s right to implement common-sense policies to protect its people.”
The challenges may not prevail at the lower court level because California is limiting gun use, not outlawing it completely, said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.
“I still think it’s unlikely that the NRA is going to be successful against these kinds of regulations,” Winkler said. “Where you see complete bans on firearms you are more likely to see success.”
The legal actions, however, are being initiated as the addition of President Donald Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, gives the U.S. Supreme Court a conservative majority.
“We are much more hopeful that if we have to go up that high (to the U.S. Supreme Court) that we will get somebody who will apply the test that will protect the Second Amendment rights to bear firearms for lawful purposes,” Michel said.