Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Judge Benitez Rules Against California's Ammunition Purchase Restrictions in Landmark Case

In a significant development for California gun owners, Judge Roger Benitez has ruled in favor of the challenges brought forth by the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) in the case Rhode v. Bonta. This ruling aims to dismantle the state's stringent restrictions on ammunition purchases established under Prop 63, passed eight years ago. These restrictions include mandatory background checks for purchases, fees for an ammo purchasing permit, a requirement to transfer ammunition only through licensed dealers, a ban on direct online ammunition shipments to buyers, and a DOJ-maintained list of authorized ammunition purchasers.

Rhode v. Bonta has been navigating the judicial system for eight years. This case, along with Duncan v. Bonta, awaited the Supreme Court's Bruen decision at the Ninth Circuit level last year. Following the Bruen decision, both cases were sent back to lower courts for additional briefing. Ammunition Depot, Able Ammo, and Sam's Shooters Emporium, alongside CRPA and other parties, have steadfastly supported this case through its various legal stages.

Judge Benitez's analysis strongly criticized the state's ammunition background check policy, asserting that it inverts constitutional norms by presuming citizens do not have the right to purchase ammunition and obligates them to seek state permission, likening it more to a government-granted privilege than a constitutional right. Consequently, the court has once again enjoined the law.

Olympic champion and named plaintiff Kim Rhode lauded the ruling, reaffirming her commitment to fighting for Second Amendment rights and expressing satisfaction that the court's decision aligns with her stance. Rhode emphasized the impact of this ruling on future generations of hunters, sportsmen, and Olympians in preserving their shooting heritage.

This latest ruling, though likely to be appealed by the state, is seen as a significant stride in countering longstanding attacks on the rights of lawful gun owners. It further underscores the transformative impact of the Bruen and Heller decisions on how courts are now required to scrutinize overly restrictive gun laws.

Sean Brady of Michel & Associates, the lead attorney for the Rhode case, highlighted the extremity of California's background check system and Judge Benitez's consistency in his judgments favoring gun owners. Today's ruling, according to Brady, reconfirms the unconstitutionality of California's ammunition purchase restrictions and aligns with the Supreme Court's opinion in Bruen.

CRPA, together with collaborators such as Ammunition Depot, Sam's Shooter's Emporium, and Able Ammo, celebrates this major victory against unconstitutional legislation in California, emphasizing the importance of collective efforts in securing significant legal triumphs for gun owners.

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