Two California Gun Control Laws Upheld

In separate gun-related rulings last week, a federal appeals court rejected two challenges to California’s Gun-Free School Zone law and a law designed to limit accidental handgun discharges.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2015 restriction added to the ban on fire arms within 1,000 feet of school grounds.  California had exempted two groups from its 1994 Gun-Free School Zone law; allowing retired peace officers authorized to carry a loaded firearm and anyone licensed to carry a concealed firearm.

The law was amended in 2015 to ban any concealed firearms, even for those with licenses, within 1,000 feet of a school. The law was challenged as a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment for treating concealed carry permits differently from retired peace officers.

The 9th Circuit panel rejected the claim.

The Gun-Free Schools law was passed in the aftermath of a 1989 school shooting in Stockton when a man with an AK-47 semi-automatic weapon shot and killed five children and a teacher and wounded 29 others at an elementary school.

“Nearly thirty years later, these same dangers persist, wrote Judge John Owens for the majority. He was joined by Judges Margaret McKeown and William Fletcher.

Handgun Limits Upheld

In the second appeal, the state’s safe handgun law requires that new models of handguns be listed on a handgun roster and meet three criteria to be sold in the state. Handguns must have a chamber load indicator and magazine detachment mechanism, both intended to limit accidental discharges.

The third provision, to aid law enforcement, requires new handguns to stamp microscopically the handgun’s make, model, and serial number onto each fired shell casing.

A legal challenge asserted that the three provisions violate the Second Amendment by narrowing the ability to buy firearms in California and that the law violates equal protection rights.

The panel found the law only regulates commercial sales, not possession, and does so in a way that does not impose a substantial burden on buyers.

“California is entitled to ‘a reasonable opportunity to experiment with solutions to admittedly serious problems.’ The microstamping requirement need not be ‘the least restrictive mean’ of reducing the number of unsolved handgun homicides,” wrote Judge McKeown for the majority. She was joined by Judge Clifford Wallace.

In a partial dissent, Judge Jay Bybee would have kept alive the challenge to the microstamping requirement. He said the state’s demanding testing protocol acts as a prohibition on commercial say of new handguns in California.

Cases: Gallinger v. Becerra, 16-56125 (Gun-Free schools)

Pena v. Lindley, 15-15449 (Handguns)



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