Federal judge blocks California's ammunition background check law

(Xinhua) 10:23, February 02, 2024

SACRAMENTO, the United States, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. federal judge has ruled that California can't enforce a law requiring people to undergo background checks before buying ammunition, saying it violates the constitutional right to bear arms.

Roger Benitez, a senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, said the restrictions have "no historical pedigree" and violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which protects the right to keep and bear arms, according to the ruling made public on Wednesday.

"A sweeping background check requirement imposed every time (on) a citizen (who) needs to buy ammunition is an outlier that our ancestors would have never accepted for a citizen," wrote Benitez in the ruling.

It is the second time that Benitez has struck down the same law which went into effect in 2019. He previously declared the law unconstitutional in April 2020. The California government appealed the decision, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the law.

Before the upper court could rule on that appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in 2022 that expanded the right of people to arm themselves in public.

Therefore, the 9th Circuit sent the case back to Benitez to be re-litigated under the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling which holds that modern gun laws must be "consistent with the nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation."

Benitez's new ruling was applauded by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, one of the plaintiffs in the case. The group said in a statement that the ruling represented "continued progress in rolling back decades of attacks on the rights of lawful gun owners."

Following the ruling, California Governor Gavin Newsom renewed his criticism of Benitez for having issued multiple decisions favoring firearms owners, stressing "background checks save lives."

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Wednesday that he will appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and seek an immediate stay of the district court's decision.

"These laws were put in place as a safeguard and a way of protecting the people of California -- and they work," said Bonta in a statement. "We will continue to fight for our authority to keep Californians safe."

Gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety throughout the nation, as mass shootings are on the rise. On average, there are over 110 gun-related deaths each day and nearly 41,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to Bonta.

Guns are the leading cause of deaths among U.S. children and adolescents, with children being more likely to die from gun violence than in any other comparable country, Bonta's office said.

California has a reputation as a tough place to buy a gun. Its gun laws have been ranked the strongest in the nation by the gun-control advocacy group Giffords.

Early this year, a California state law prohibiting the possession of guns in most public spaces was halted by the 9th Circuit, and arguments in the case will be heard in April.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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