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Gun control law ruled unconstitutional

On March 19, 2020, at AO Sword Firearms in El Cajon, Calif., a large variety of firearms from rifles to handguns were available for purchase. (Nelson C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
March 13, 2024

A California gun law that banned residents from purchasing more than one gun in a 30-day period was ruled unconstitutional Monday by U.S. District Judge William Hayes.

The ruling issued by Hayes follows the Supreme Court’s decision in the recent “New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen” case, which expanded Second Amendment protections by requiring the courts to consider gun laws in light of the original framework of the Constitution.

“Defendants have not met their burden of producing a ‘well-established and representative historical analogue’ to the [one-gun-a-month] law,” Hayes ruled. “The Court therefore concludes that Plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment as to the constitutionality of the [one-gun-a-month] law under the Second Amendment.”

While Hayes ruled that the state’s law was unconstitutional, the law will still remain in effect for 30 days to allow California to appeal the ruling, according to Reuters. A California Attorney General’s Office spokesperson told Reuters the office was reviewing the court’s ruling.

Bill Sack, the director of the Second Amendment Foundation’s legal operations, told Reuters that California’s one-gun-a-month law was an obvious violation of the Second Amendment. “Inherent to the right to keep and bear arms is the right to acquire them,” Sack explained.

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According to Reuters, the lawsuit, which was first filed in 2020, claimed that California’s one-gun-a-month law violated both the Second Amendment and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Since the filing of the lawsuit, the Supreme Court issued a ruling explaining that the Constitution guarantees a citizen’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense, according to Reuters.

Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta argued that the state’s one-gun-a-month law “merely limits individuals to the purchase of one handgun or semiautomatic centerfire rifle every thirty days directly from licensed firearm dealers.” Bonta claimed that the state’s law “does not prevent anyone from acquiring firearms for self defense, keeping them for those purposes, and bearing the firearms for confrontation.”

Despite Bonta’s arguments, Hayes determined that the Supreme Court previously ruled that an individual’s right does not have to be entirely nullified for a law to infringe on the freedoms guaranteed to U.S. citizens under the Constitution.

Following the court’s ruling, Cody Wisniewski, the vice president and general counsel of the Firearms Policy Coalition, which was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, released a statement, saying, “Another week, another California gun control law declared unconstitutional by a federal court.”

“California’s one-gun-a-month law directly violates California residents’ right to acquire arms and has no basis in history,” Wisniewski added. “Given it seems certain California will refuse to learn its lesson, we look forward to continuing to strike down its gun control regime and to defending this victory.”