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Federal Judge Rules Californians No Longer Need Background Checks for Bullet Purchases

A federal judge has ruled that residents of California no longer need to undergo background checks and pay fees every time they purchase bullets.

The ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, came into immediate effect, raising questions about public safety and the Second Amendment.

Delay To The Ruling

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta has requested a delay to the ruling for the opportunity to appeal, leaving the decision’s fate uncertain.

Background Check Requirement For Bullets In California

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California, like many states, mandates background checks for gun purchases.

However, it goes further by requiring individuals to undergo background checks, which can cost between $1 and $19 depending on eligibility, each time they buy ammunition.

Most States Offer Licenses That Cover Multiple Purchases

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While some states require background checks for ammunition, most offer licenses that cover multiple purchases over a few years.

California’s law aims to help authorities identify individuals who possess guns unlawfully, such as convicted felons, individuals with mental health issues, or those with certain domestic violence convictions.

Use Of Unserialized Guns At Home

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Such individuals often assemble unserialized guns at home, making it challenging for law enforcement to trace them.

Nevertheless, these individuals are flagged during background checks when trying to purchase ammunition.

Judge’s Ruling On Second Amendment

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Judge Benitez ruled that California’s ammunition law violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it prevents individuals from purchasing bullets for self-defense.

Automated Background Check System Rejected  11% Of Applicants

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He also criticized the state’s automated background check system, which rejected approximately 11% of applicants, totaling 58,087 requests in the first half of 2023.

Judge’s Question

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The judge questioned how many of these applicants needed ammunition for self-defense versus sporting purposes, emphasizing that the denial infringes upon their Second Amendment rights.

Advances In Technology And Enforcement

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Attorney General Bonta argued that technological advancements, such as the online sale of ghost guns without serial numbers, necessitate a fresh approach to enforcing gun laws.

Argument Dismissed

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However, Judge Benitez dismissed this argument, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a new standard for interpreting gun laws.

Gun Laws Must Align With Historical Firearm Regulation

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According to the decision, gun laws must align with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation, and Benitez asserted that there is no historical precedent for background checks on ammunition purchases.

Public Safety Concerns

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Bonta expressed concern that Judge Benitez’s ruling could jeopardize public safety, emphasizing that these laws were implemented to safeguard Californians. He emphasized the need to correct this perceived error swiftly.

Response From Gun Rights Advocates

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Chuck Michel, President and General Counsel of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, argued that California’s requirement for background checks on all ammunition purchases has not enhanced safety.

Instead, he claimed that it has made it more challenging and costly for law-abiding gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Challenges To California’s Gun Laws

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California is known for having some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, many of which are currently under legal scrutiny due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s revised interpretation of gun laws.

Previous Instances

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Judge Benitez has previously invalidated two other California gun laws, and several others are facing legal challenges, including regulations on digital surveillance systems in gun stores and restrictions on the sale of new handguns.

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