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District Court Blocks California's “Unsafe Handgun” Law

For years, lawful California citizens have been restricted to guns specific to an "approved" list under the "Unsafe Handgun" act. In a major 2A victory, it has finally been struck down.

District Court Blocks California's “Unsafe Handgun” Law

District Court Blocks California’s “Unsafe Handgun” Law (Bennian/Shutterstock)

In a lawsuit filed last year following the critical Bruen decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, California’s longstanding and patently ridiculous “Unsafe Handgun” law has been put on hold by a district court. In the case Boland v. Bonta, the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division on Tuesday granted a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs, blocking enforcement of the law. The California Rifle & Pistol Association is a plaintiff in the case, along with a number of individual citizens.

“Californians have the constitutional right to acquire and use state-of-the-art handguns to protect themselves,” the court wrote in issuing the injunction. “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.”

In fact, the California state government hadn’t added any new handgun models to the so-called “approved list” for 10 years. Making matters worse, models available for sale have dwindled 75 percent, from 976 handgun models to under 250 in 2022, when models with similar paint schemes are taken into consideration. Other portions of the law, specifically an impossible to implement microstamping provision, have made it even more of a burden on lawful Californians simply wanting to practice their Second Amendment rights.

“The microstamping provision requires handguns to have a particular feature that is simply not commercially available or even feasible to implement on a mass scale,” the court further wrote. “Because enforcing those requirements implicates the plain text of the Second Amendment, and the government fails to point to any well-established historical analogues that are consistent with them, those requirements are unconstitutional and their enforcement must be preliminarily enjoined.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, was quick to applaud the court ruling, which could eventually lead to many more handgun choices for lawful Californians.

“This order is a victory for lawful gun ownership in California,” Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel, said in a news item distributed by the organization. “For too long, the Second Amendment has been significantly infringed upon by elected officials who have taken every opportunity to put roadblocks in front of law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights.” 

Keane warned, however, that there’s still a long way to go before Californians are free to purchase whatever handguns they choose—like most of the rest of U.S. citizens living in free states can.

“The order is the first step in what will be a protracted legal battle, but it is a significant win,” he said. “NSSF has long contended that California’s Unsafe Handgun Act is an unconstitutional infringement denying Californians their ability to legally purchase the handguns that would best suit their needs. The court is correctly applying the holdings of the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision that the Second Amendment is the only test when it comes to lawful firearm ownership and the holdings of Heller that firearms in common use are protected by the Second Amendment.”

Californians ready to bolster their handgun collection with new models they’ve not been able to purchase should note that the injunction will not take effect until 14 days after the ruling was signed (April 3) to allow the state to prepare an appeal.


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.


If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.




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