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California’s 10-Day Waiting Period For All Gun Purchases Upheld

December 16, 2016

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s longstanding 10-day waiting period for all gun purchases on Wednesday. The Court of Appeals uses a three-judge panel, said the law does not violate an individual’s Second Amendment rights and calls the 10-day wait “a reasonable precaution” as it overturns a lower court’s decision from two years ago.

The published court opinion said, “Before the age of superstores and superhighways, most folks could not expect to take possession of a firearm immediately upon deciding to purchase one. As a purely practical matter, delivery took time. Our 18th and 19th century forebears knew nothing about electronic transmissions. Delays of a week or more were not the product of governmental regulations, but such delays had to be routinely accepted as part of doing business.”

This ruling overturned a 2014 decision that ordered the state to abandon waiting periods and substitute them with the federal background check system to clear buyers before a dealer transfers a firearm. The ruling also states and refers to Heller vs. DC, “An individual who already owns a hunting rifle, for example, may want to purchase a larger capacity weapon that will do more damage when fired into a crowd. A 10-day cooling-off period would serve to discourage such conduct and would impose no serious burden on the core Second Amendment right of defense of the home identified in (Heller v DC).”

Since 1923, California has had some form of waiting period statute for firearm sales. Originally, the law required a one-day wait for handguns, but lawmakers expanded it incrementally to three, five and later 15-days. In 1991 it began to include all firearms. The only reform came in 1996 when, with the increased availability of electronic checks, it was reduced to the current 10-day mandate. In 2011, this was challenged by two Second Amendment activists and it laid the groundwork for the 2014 decision. Brandon Combs, executive director of The Calguns Foundation, expressed disappointment with the reversal and said his organization is weighing options for an appeal.

Combs said, “Today’s opinion is but one of a growing string of wrongly-decided Second Amendment cases and serves to underscore that, if the fundamental, individual, Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is to survive as something more than a second-class right, the Supreme Court will need to say so once more.” He said the panel “has proven to be more interested in their own policy preferences than the Constitution and the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment.” The three panel of judges was made up of all Democrats, one appointed by Carter, one by Clinton, and the last by Obama.

The gun-control friendly Violence Policy Center argues gun waiting periods reduce the number of banned people who are able to purchase firearms in addition to helping prevent suicides and other impulsive acts. The group maintains that in addition to California, some nine other states currently have laws requiring some sort of waiting periods. With the exception of Hawaii who has a 14-day wait, California’s is the longest in the country.