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Federal court strikes down California law limiting gun buys to one per month

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(The Center Square) – A federal district court struck down California’s law limiting gun purchases to one every 30 days, citing unconstitutionality. The district court judge placed a 30 day stay on the ruling to give the state a chance to appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge William Hayes based his ruling on NYSRPA v. Bruen, a U.S. Supreme Court case that created a new standard for Second Amendment decisions. Under Bruen, “When the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct,” and the government “must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

“The Court concludes that Plaintiffs’ proposed conduct is presumptively protected because it is covered by the plain text of the Second Amendment,” said Hayes, before moving on to address California’s cited historical precedent of similar gun laws.

California cited gunpowder storage laws meant to limit accidental fires for placing “limits on the ownership and storage of gunpowder”, restrictions on gun sales to Native Americans “to address the perceived risks to public safety,” prohibitions on the sale of certain weapons that were “concealable” and specifically “associated with interpersonal violence and crime,” and taxes and licensing laws requiring licenses for trading firearms with Native Americans, selling firearms, and taxes on the sale of firearms and other deadly weapons that “limit the availability and ownership of firearms.”

Hayes found that the gunpowder storage laws were based on limiting fires, not gun purchases; that the precedent of of limits on Native American sales — and other “groups excluded from the political community” as a historical analogue is “dubious, at best”; that legally upheld restrictions on certain types of weapons typically used by criminals do not apply to California’s broad law on all firearm purchases; and that these taxing and licensing regulations “placed no limit on the quantity or frequency with which one could acquire firearms.”

After finding the plaintiffs’ proposed action — of purchasing more than one gun per month — as protected by a plain reading of the Second Amendment, and the state’s historical defense of the regulation to have no historical analogue, Hayes granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a summary judgment. While California appeals the ruling through the appeals and perhaps even Supreme Court, it’s likely the ruling will continue to be stayed.

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