A U.S. District Judge has stopped enforcement of California’s law requiring citizens to undergo background checks when purchasing ammunition. The 120-page injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez.
This California law (Proposition 63—passed in 2016) also requires that all ammunition purchases be done in person and makes it illegal for, say, a law-abiding California resident to drive ammo into California from another state.
Judge Benitez found these restrictions violate the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.
Benitez began his ruling with these pointed words: “The experiment has been tried. The casualties have been counted. California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured. In this action, Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction enjoining California’s onerous and convoluted new laws requiring ammunition purchase background checks and implementing ammunition anti-importation laws. For the reasons that follow, the motion for preliminary injunction is granted.”
Later in his ruling, Judge Benitez wrote: “Law-abiding citizens are imbued with the unalienable right to keep and bear firearms along with the ammunition to make their firearms work. That a majority today may wish it were otherwise, does not change the Constitutional right.”
The NRA-supported lawsuit challenging this law (Rhode v. Becerra) was filed by the California Rifle & Pistol Association on April 26, 2018.
“The NRA supported this case for the same reason the court struck down the laws: enough was enough,” says Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
Kim Rhode is the lead plaintiff in the case. If Rhode’s name sounds familiar to you, it should. Rhode has used her shotgun to win 14 National Championships, 6 Olympic medals and 50 international medals. Rhode, who serves on the NRA Board of Directors, is a California resident. This law has been making it very difficult for her to get ammunition so she can practice for upcoming competitions (on a typical day, she shoots 800 shells).
“To give you an example, before this passed, I would receive my allotment of ammunition,” Rhode told America’s 1st Freedom. “They [an ammo company] would either mail it to me or to a shoot. I would have to drive it across the state line to save money. This law made all of that illegal. It made it impossible for me to get my ammo in the quantities that I need. Even if I were to get my ammo, some miraculous way which I have yet to find, I wouldn’t be able to leave the facility with one shell.”
Rhode also said, “A lot of people don’t realize that this also is affecting law enforcement. I know quite a few law-enforcement people who have been denied their ability to get ammo. A lot of competitive shooters are suffering, because they have matches inside and outside of California. It goes to show how stupid the law is, and how it doesn’t work. It does affect my ability to get ammo. It does affect my ability to be able to train at the highest level. It does affect my ability to pass on the knowledge that I have to future generations.”
This injunction means that the provisions of this law cannot be enforced while the case is active unless the decision is stayed.