March 27, 2023
We told you last week how a district court in California had blocked the state’s so-called “Unsafe Handgun” law that created a roster for “approved” handguns and allowed very few models of handguns to be sold to lawful residents of the state. In fact, no new handgun models have been added to the roster in a decade.
Now, as expected, the California attorney general has appealed that important ruling in the case Boland v. Bonta. In filing the appeal, California AG Rob Bonta argued that the state’s punitive law—which is the only one like it in the United States—is necessary for the protection of state residents.
“California’s common-sense gun safety laws save lives, and the Unsafe Handgun Act is no exception,” Bonta said in a press release. “Accidental shootings are preventable. The fact that children under five are the most likely victims makes these accidental gun deaths even more tragic and inexcusable. As weapons become faster, more powerful, and more deadly, this risk only increases. Flooding the marketplace with unsafe semi-automatic pistols that do not meet necessary safety requirements poses a serious threat to public health and safety, especially for children and young adults.”
Of course, those “faster, more powerful, more deadly” firearms that Bonta deems “unsafe” are simply modern semi-auto pistols sold in most other states in the nation, where they are considered top candidates for home defense and concealed carry. If anything, these newer models are made to be even safer than their predecessors of a decade ago and before.
The motion of appeal doesn’t seem to answer any of the important points brought up by the court in rendering its recent decision. In the decision, Federal District Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote: “Californians have the constitutional right to acquire and use state-of-the-art handguns to protect themselves. They should not be forced to settle for decade-old models of handguns to ensure that they remain safe inside or outside the home. But unfortunately, the UHA’s CLI, MDM, and microstamping requirements do exactly that.”
Judge Carney further wrote: “The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. That right is so fundamental that to regulate conduct covered by the Second Amendment’s plain text, the government must show more than that the regulation promotes an important interest like reducing accidental discharges or solving crime. Rather, to be constitutional, regulations of Second Amendment rights must be ‘consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.’”
Rather than arguing why the law is constitutional or pointing to any “historic tradition of firearm regulation” as the court directed, Bonta’s appeal simply claims the law reduces accidental discharges and makes people safer. That’s exactly what the court had said was not sufficient to defend the handgun roster.
Interestingly, the motion does not seek to immediately stop the portion of the court’s decision enjoining the microstamping requirement. It seems Bonta knows that part is so problematic to his case that he has chosen not to fight that battle. Of course, it is the microstamping portion of the law that has caused no handguns to be added to the roster for the past 10 years, since the technology to meet that requirement doesn’t even exist.
As a Second Amendment advocate, it's encouraging that the state’s appeal doesn’t directly address the important points the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division, pointed to as rendering the law unconstitutional. Hopefully, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will use the new standards set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in last summer’s Bruen decision in considering the merits of the case and come to the same conclusion.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years.
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