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Federal Court Judges Strike Down California’s Ammo Background Check Law, NY Ban on Guns in Public Housing

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When the US Supreme Court handed down the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, it was met with no shortage of resistance among those who favored segregation of America’s schools and other public accommodations.  It took a couple of years before judges across America realized that they couldn’t side-step the ruling despite the pleas of bigots and indeed, a few racists.

Today, seventy years later, we see a similar reluctance of quite a few federal court judges to accept their roles as inferior courts. Judges twist themselves into rhetorical pretzels to come up with rulings that clearly run afoul of both the Heller decision from 2008 as well as the Bruen decision in 2022 that indicated that government cannot regulate or ban guns in common use for lawful purposes such as self-defense.

Two more decisions handed down in recent days have continued the trend of throwing unconstitutional gun control schemes into the dustbin of history.

California’s Ammo Background Checks Stuck Down… again.
As noted earlier on TTAG, Judge Roger Benitez, known affectionately as St. Benitez to gun rights advocates, struck down California’s law that required background checks to buy ammunition. If you guessed there was no historical precedent of the state running a background check prior to purchasing ammo in the 1790s, you’re a smart cookie.

The California Rifle and Pistol Association had a great press release on their big win in front of Judge Benitez:

California gun owners got great news today when Judge Roger Benitez announced he is upholding CRPA’s challenges in Rhode v. Bonta. This case seeks to overturn the state’s restrictions on ammunition purchases.

Rhode v. Bonta (challenging ammunition restrictions) has worked its way up and down the court system for eight years. Along with Duncan v. Bonta, these cases were both at the Ninth Circuit level last year, awaiting the much anticipated Bruen decision by the Supreme Court. Once that decision came down, Rhode and Duncan were both remanded back to the lower courts for supplemental briefing. Our friends at Ammunition Depot joined with CRPA and other individual and company plaintiffs to support this case through all of the legal twists and turns.

Named plaintiff and Olympic champion Kim Rhode celebrated the announcement: “Like I initially stated to Gavin Newsom, “always happy to teach you about the guns and ammo you don’t trust me to own.” I’m happy that the courts agreed with me. Many generations of hunters, outdoorsmen and Olympians will be able to train and pass on the shooting heritage for many generations. I will never stop fighting for the 2nd Amendment and what I believe to be right and the court’s ruling supports that.

Both cases were intensely watched by Second Amendment advocates buoyed by the announcement of the Bruen decision last summer.  Today’s ruling, while the state will most certainly appeal them, represent continued progress in rolling back decades of attacks on the rights of lawful gun owners.

“Today’s ruling represents continued affirmation that the Bruen decision, and Heller before that, represent a sea change in the way courts must look at these absurdly restrictive laws,” stated CRPA President & General Counsel Chuck Michel.  “Sure, the state will appeal, but the clock is ticking on laws that violate the Constitution.”

Lead attorney for the Rhode case, Sean Brady of Michel & Associates, noted, “this particular background check system, instituted by California law, was so egregious and over the top that Judge Benitez never faltered in his determinations from his earlier rulings which gave gun owners a win. Today’s ruling reiterates that California’s restrictions on ammunition purchasing are unconstitutional under yet another ruling in our favor and one that is in line with the Supreme Court opinion in Bruen.”

CRPA is proud to stand side by side with plaintiffs like Ammunition Depot, Sam’s Shooter’s Emporium, and Able Ammo in this major challenge to unconstitutional laws in California. It takes this type of collaboration to bring about big wins for gun owners.

Stay tuned to CRPA News, emails, and social feeds for continued updates as our legal team breaks down the rulings and provides a roadmap for what lies ahead. We will also have more information as Judge Benitez’s decision is analyzed, and we can determine what happens next for these cases and your rights as gun owners.

In the meantime, you can give to cases like these, DONATE, to help us keep the wins coming!  We are NOT DONE YET!

Yes, donate to CRPA to help them continue these fights.

Also, it’s likely the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will attempt to stay this decision in the coming days. But in doing so, they’re merely teeing this up for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the matter once and for all.

Housing Authority Ban Shut Down
In New York State, Judge Glenn Suddaby smacked down a public housing authority gun ban in Cortland, NY in Hunter v. Cortland Housing Authority.

Again, there were no widespread bans on keeping firearms in the home in the 1790s for anyone.

Here’s SAF’s press release:

A federal judge in New York has granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to the Second Amendment Foundation and its partners in a challenge of a public housing authority gun ban in Cortland, N.Y. The case is known as Hunter v. Cortland Housing Authority.

U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby handed down the 29-page decision, which enjoins the defendants and their officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys “from, taking any action to enforce, or otherwise require any person or entity to comply with the firearms ban as set forth in the ‘Tenant’s Obligations’” in the standard lease agreement pending final resolution of the case.

SAF is joined by three public housing residents, Elmer Irwin, Doug Merrin and Robert Hunter, the latter for whom them case is named. 

“This is not the first time SAF has litigated a public housing case,” noted SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, “which have all been about the same thing, a Second Amendment violation. We have won cases in Illinois and Tennessee, and by now, it would seem that public housing authorities should have gotten the message that constitutional rights do not end at the front door. We will continue pursuing such cases as they come to our attention because people do not give up their rights simply because they live in subsidized housing.”

“No public housing authority should be allowed to simply block tenants from exercising their right to keep and bear arms,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The Bill of Rights is an all-or-nothing proposition, not a buffet from which a bureaucracy should be able to pick and choose which rights they find acceptable. We’re delighted with Judge Suddaby’s decision, which is a victory for constitutional rights everywhere.”

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. Gun owners need to keep up the pressure on government entities to repeal their gun control schemes or alternatively, take them to court.

Gun control schemes have no more place in American life than does forced segregation of public schools and public accommodations.

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