Thursday, July 20, 2023

Judge in California Reviews Ammunition Legislation Case, Additional Firearm Control Hearings Expected



On July 18th, 2023, a case known as Rhode v. Bonta was addressed by Judge Roger T. Benitez, with arguments presented by counsel from both sides. The court agreed to unify the preliminary injunction hearing and the trial on its merits. This case was remanded back to Judge Benitez by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals due to the impact of the Supreme Court's Bruen decision.

The lawsuit of Rhode v. Bonta pertains to the stringent restrictions that California has imposed on in-state ammunition sales and interstate ammunition importation. These rules could arguably be the most restrictive ones on ammunition purchase ever established in the United States. Aware of the adversarial context in the Ninth Circuit, Judge Benitez is proceeding with utmost caution and thoroughness. All parties involved anticipate an appeal to a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, regardless of the case's resolution.

According to the case's hearing transcript from July 18, 2023, the proceedings are to be carried forward with the plaintiffs required to file declarations about their Article III standing within 30 days. The defendant is also expected to name and file an expert report about the history and tradition of background checks in America within the same period. Following this, the plaintiffs will have the chance to decide whether to cross-examine said experts within the next 15 days. After deciding, they are to file a brief or expert declarations in response within the subsequent 30 days.

Judge Benitez is also expected to preside over other cases related to the Bruen decision, such as the California magazine ban, the California "assault weapons" ban, and a California ban on "billy" clubs. He originally ruled the "billy" club ban constitutional due to its longstanding history, following the previously discredited interpretations of the Ninth Circuit on the Second Amendment. However, under the Caetano and Bruen rulings, it is anticipated that the law will be declared unconstitutional.

At the July 18 hearing, the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) stated that Judge Benitez reaffirmed his commitment to diligently working on all these cases. It was noted that despite his busy schedule, he was taking the time to review and address all the evidence and scholarship submitted in each case.

The CRPA has called on its members to share experiences of being denied the ability to buy ammunition due to the California ban, responding to allegations that the organization lacks the "standing" to challenge the ban.

Judge Benitez's past verdicts, characterized by cogent reasoning and logic, have earned him high regard among Constitution advocates and Second Amendment supporters. His birthplace, Cuba, may account for his profound understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The multitude of cases evolving from the Bruen decision are gradually progressing through the legal system. The Bruen ruling holds potential for restoring Second Amendment rights, which have been significantly curtailed for over a hundred years. To revive these rights, correct procedures must be adhered to, and the Supreme Court's decision must be clarified and affirmed through thorough and lucid lower court opinions, which Judge Benitez is striving to deliver.

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