Second Amendment

Suit Challenges California's New Background Check Law for Ammunition

The law demands use of Real I.D. compliant identification for background checks that many state residents don't have


California's new statewide law requiring background checks to purchase ammunition is facing a legal challenge supported by the California Rifle and Pistol Association. Among other complaints, the suit says the law, which went into effect last month, violates Californians' Second Amendment rights.

A hearing to consider a motion to enjoin the state from enforcing the ammo background check is currently scheduled for August 19.

One sticking point involves the law's demand that a citizen present identification in order to go through the background check. The plaintiffs in the case, known as Rhode v. Becerra, complain that the state is enforcing more stringent requirements in this context than it uses for most other legal purposes, enforcing federal "real ID" requirements that go beyond what most Californians currently possess:

Under [the state's] regulation, a California driver license or identification card with the notation "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY" is sufficient for virtually all other purposes, yet not to acquire ammunition….While this form of ID is issued by the State itself, as proof of both identity and residence, individuals possessing this state-issued ID must nonetheless present additional documentation (such as a valid U.S. passport or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate) to purchase ammunitiion…Should this additional proof not match precisely the name appearing on the California ID, additional documentation must be provided explaining the reason for the name change.

The plaintiffs consider it absurd that the state says

the identification that California issues as a default and thus implicitly deems sufficient for all other purposes is insufficient for purchasing ammunition—a constitutional right!…Making matters worse, the State does not even have the excuse here that federal law compels its extra identification requirement because the federal government accepts FLA ["federal limits apply,"meaning it is not federal REAL ID compliant] IDs as sufficient for its own purposes—including to pass background checks to purchase a firearm. There is simply no plausible basis on which a state can claim that an ID issued by the state itself, and accepted as sufficient by the federal government, is nonetheless insufficient even to allow an individual to undergo a background check to determine whether he may exercise his Second Amendment rights.

Because of this, "some Vendors have reported that they have been forced to turn away about half of their customers in a given day for lacking a federally compliant ID or supplemental documentation." This reportedly includes "customers whose job entails gun use, including some serving in the United States military and a Department of Defense firearms instructor."

Various vendors have filed declarations to accompany the suit. They paint a picture of a business now hobbled by bureaucracy. "Before the System's implementation, a typical ammunition transaction could take less than a minute to complete," the injunction request reports. "But it now can take 20 minutes—often more—just to enter and process the required information through [the dealer entry system], in addition to the time necessary for [the state] to approve or reject the transaction." Some sellers "have reported estimated losses of nearly half the daily revenues they enjoyed before the new restrictions took effect."

Vendors associated with the plaintiffs report 10–60 percent rejection rates of would-be customers with the new system, while "Typical rejection rates for firearm purchases, on the other hand, average around 1%." As the filing argues, "Such a high (and disproportionate) denial rate cannot accurately reflect the number of persons who are prohibited from possessing a firearm, meaning that many law-abiding people are being unjustifiably denied the ability to obtain ammunition for the firearms that they are constitutionally entitled to keep and bear."

The suit also raises commerce clause issues, arguing that the law substantially burdens any ammunition vendor without a physical presence in the state from selling ammunition to Californians.

In its filing to oppose the motion, the state claims that the vendors' complaints about how the system is working in practice are merely "anecdotal reports" that "do not establish a constitutional violation." The state argues that the plaintiffs cannot win under the Supreme Court's Heller standard. Heller is the 2008 case that established the Second Amendment defines an individual right to be able to have commonly used weapons, at least for self-defense in the home; the ruling does state that "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions" preventing certain types of people from owning weapons, or barring arms from certain places, or, most relevant to this case, "imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

Because of that language in Heller, California insists its challenged ammo background check law is "the kind of presumptively lawful regulatory measures that the Supreme Court has said do not implicate the Second Amendment."

That isn't necessarily as clear as the state's lawyers claim, since no similar statewide background check for ammunition purchases law existed in the country at the time Heller was decided. The opposing side argues that the existence of similar laws in two California cities before Heller (though only about a decade before it) are not enough to make ammo background checks the sort of "longstanding prohibitions" that are presumptively OK under its doctrine.

California Attorney General Xavier Becarra is proud, the Los Angeles Times reports, that the system has prevented more than 100 prohibited persons from buying ammo in the last month. As usual with restrictions of types of people from access to weapons, there is no proof that many or even any of the prohibited would have harmed the innocent with their access to the contraband. The state's filing notes that Los Angeles and Sacramento had such ammo background checks already, but it does not present evidence that this had an effect on gun crime in those areas.

When the law prevents citizens from purchasing ammunition "until the purchaser can prove that they are not prohibited persons," the law's challengers argue, that "flips constitutional order on its head. The State has the burden to prove that a person is not entitled to exercise a right—not the other way around."

NEXT: Acts of Politically Motivated Violence Are Already Illegal. Making 'Domestic Terrorism' a Federal Crime Won't Help

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  1. It’s not a bug, it’s their aim.

    1. I was going to post this, but now will reply.

      “But it now can take 20 minutes—often more—just to enter and process the required information through [the dealer entry system], in addition to the time necessary for [the state] to approve or reject the transaction.” Some sellers “have reported estimated losses of nearly half the daily revenues they enjoyed before the new restrictions took effect.”

      Feature no bug indeed. This is the whole intent scarcely behind this law.

    2. +1000

      The goal is to end run the 2nd Amendment, as it makes a come back around the USA.

      1. Different implementation, same goal as the huge registration fees in other states.

      2. In some states where fireworks are illegal, you see shops set up just across the border. Wonder is that is a possibility in this case, buy a little land on i-10 in Nevada and go to town…

        1. Lawmen already spend some time recording number plates of vehicles that are found in the parking lots of these places. Ya ackshully think they won’t be laying on extra ossifers to scout Last Chance Ammo, Inc? Sure they will.
          I know one thing, too… every time anyone I know plans to drive into California, that car will weigh a fair bit more southbound than it will on the way back north.

  2. Require a Real ID to vote. Watch how quick they claim it disenfranchises people and is unconstitutional.

    1. Democrats voting good.
      Buying guns and ammo bad.


    2. +10000

      Require a Real ID to be counted in Census 2020. Watch the Lefties flip the fuck out.

      1. I like that!

    3. I remember we tried to do this in PA and people freaked out.

  3. “‘In its filing to oppose the motion, the state claims that the vendors’ complaints about how the system is working in practice are merely “anecdotal reports” that “do not establish a constitutional violation.”‘

    Of course “anecdotal reports” “do not establish a constitutional violation.” I guess, therefore, that the occasional lynchings by the KKK were also merely “anecdotal” and therefore did not require further investigation to see if there was “a constitutional violation.”

  4. “Prohibited Persons”

    1. That is right out of some distopian science fiction.

      1. cute how same people tell “the other side” they *can’t* call illegal immigrants prohibited persons.

    2. “Prohibited Persons”

      Otherwise known as felons. Usually, though I wouldn’t put it past CA to add additional classes of people to the group who have usually been known as Prohibited Persons.

      Is it illegal for a prohibited person to attempt to buy ammunition, as it is when they try to buy a firearm from an FFL? If so, why isn’t CA trying to lock these guys up?

      1. Those “prohibited persons” are also know as ‘individualists’, and anathema to the socialists.
        Of course, there should be no infringement on any armament, but logic and reason, sadly missing from statists, would allow use of a voter registration card as sufficient proof to buy, possess, (or shall we say keep and bear?) arms, ammunition, etc. After all, if are qualified for one constitutional right, voting, you should be qualified for all of them.

        1. OK. Felons can’t vote. (Or at least, they used to not be able to.
          Thanks Florida.) Nor own deadly weapons. Which has been the case since misty antiquity in English Common Law.
          True, there are slightly more felonies now than then….

          I agree with your point that, if you’re able to vote, you should be able to own a deadly weapon and the means to make it operable.

          1. Only certain states have it so felons cannot vote.

          2. IIRC, under English common law, in that misty antiquity, “felonies” were crimes that could lose you your life. Anything short of that was considered mercy, not an imposition.

      2. Because the 2A has no exceptions for ex-felons or other prohibited groups from keeping and bearing Arms.

        Commifornia does not want to lock up more people, they want to get all the guns from residents of that state or neutralize their ability to shoot government agents when the door-to-door roundups occur….again. California had the most Japanese-American unconstitutional roundups and they will do it again.

      3. Anyone targeted by a denunciation by a disgruntled person, and added to secret lists with no notice or due process.

      4. “Prohibited persons” includes illegal foregin invaders. Fed law requires someone to be a resident of the state where the purchase is taking place for firearms. Not so with ammo. Although I do seem to recollect that aliens illegally present are prohibitd arms and ammo. But we all know none of them will EVER vote, either….. heh heh heh

    3. That reminds me, where has Crusty been?

      1. Who cares? The only way reason will survive is if trolls disappear from this place.

      2. I hope he is doing okay.
        Although, considering the frequency with which he would post articles concerning teenagers having sex with their teachers, I fear that he either has some horrible STD or he is in jail.

    1. This will get little to no play, beyond sites like Town Hall et al. It is however what would happen in high crime areas if guns were somehow magically removed. Then we’d need knife control, just like GB. Then a restriction on pointy ended kitchen knives, and do you have a good reason to buy that hammer? The permit for those is may issue.

      1. What you are saying is exactly what happened in London. London has had an explosion of knife attacks. And their solution to it has been to criminalize the carrying of all knives, even kitchen knives in public.

        But that is where giving objects agency leads you.

        1. Screwdrivers are next, you mark my words.

          1. I think London has already done that.

            1. Great Britain, and London in particular, are the canaries in the mine of destruction of individual rights.

    1. I have inlaws similar to Ms. Selinger from the article. Every fucking thing with them gets put through a political filter. It grows incredibly tiresome, and their derangement is frankly scary.

      No, at the family get together, I don’t want to discuss Donald Trump and what a bastard he is. I just want to know how you all are doing, let’s see the baby pictures, and could you pass the cranberries?

      1. You want to know how otherwise normal and good people supported things like the Holocaust and the Great Terror, look no further than this woman. If a woman is so full of hate she is willing to cut off her kids from their grandparents and their son from his parents, she isn’t going to care when the government comes to murder these people. Like this, it will be regrettable but necessary. These people are well and truly evil.

        1. Good thing John doesn’t know how to hate.

          1. Just you. I love humanity. I only hate you. That is why I have rented space inside your head.

            1. You love humanity, but good thing many groups of people don’t qualify, amirite?

              1. No. Just you.

                1. Lol. Right. Your frequent diatribes against muslims, gays, progressives, and immigrants are tongue-in-cheek sarcasm.

                  1. Considering such “diatribes” don’t exist, maybe you should ask the voices in your head that are giving them.

                  2. Let’s see one?

                    Surely you can find one from, oh, the last couple of months where he’s doing what you say he’s doing.

                  3. Well in fairness to John, he doesn’t go as far as people like Nardz and Shithead who advocate for the literal murder of their enemies.

                    I think I have only seen John once call for profiling all Muslims.

        2. It’s insane. By most objective measures this is a Golden Age in America. Life expectancy, material wealth, lack of disease, expanded opportunity for historically marginalized peoples: you name it, it’s never been better than it is today.

          (O.K., liberty has taken it in the shorts. So has privacy.)

          Yet these people act like they’re living in the Soviet Union, and the Teutonic invaders, aided by a fifth column within the populace, are coming to burn all of their shit down. They LARP against Trump and this mythical white supremacy group like they thing they’re fighting Bull Connor or worse.

          I don’t get it.

          1. MY theory is that it is narcissism. They want to feel important and feel like they are fighting against evil in some noble cause. So, what they do is build up their political enemies into something they are not as a way to build up themselves. If Trump is just a President I don’t like, then I am just another partisan with an opinion. If Trump is Hitler, I am in the noble resistance fighting for all that is good in humanity.

            The fact that it is a fantasy makes it even more tempting since it doesn’t require taking any actual risk.

            1. Well, the problem is that they’re acting like their fantasy will soon be reality. The thought of someone like Harris or Castro gaining the Presidency makes me cringe.

              Maybe it’s just modern lefties are worse at lying than the previous generation, the Moynihan types, were able to do? But modern leftist leaders are downright scary, in their stated plans, in their refusal to rule out violence or condemn their violent supporters, and their willingness to suborn institutions that previously were thought to be largely above such things.

              I mean, fifteen-twenty years ago, if you’d written a novel where the intelligence community of the US was spying on a major party’s presidential campaign, and federal law enforcement was actively trying to sabotage it, the book’d be in the modern fantasy section, next to Three Days Of The Condor.

              Not in the history section.

              1. Their fantasies become real. And that is very scary. The media and the left have managed to get people to totally dehumanize a large section of the country, mostly the evil white males or anyone who lives outside a city. The next step is murder. The only question is whether they will ever have that in their power. Make no mistake, they will start killing. They always do.

                1. Ask Steve Scalise.

                  Great selection of a killing ground by his shooter. I mean, that nut couldn’t have done better if he’d tried. Terrible execution of his plan.

                  I thought it was interesting that no one ever asked how exactly, that crazy SOB was managing to live for 6 weeks in the DC area, sans job. It would be weird for a serious political volunteer, like the shooter had been, to not have any personal contacts during that six weeks with any of the political representatives he’d worked for, or their staff members. If only for some walking around money, and maybe a line on a job.

                  But no one seemed to see fit to try and seriously retrace his steps. Odd.

                  1. I never thought of that. That is a very good question.

            2. The problem is that they judge whether they’re good by whether they’re better than their foes. So the worse they think their foes, the worse they can be themselves, and still think themselves the good guys.

              So they’ve got a strong incentive to think their foes are demonically evil; It frees them to use any tactic they want, and still feel good about themselves.

              If you’re fighting Literally Hitler, you can lie, you can cheat, you can steal, you can attack people on the streets and even engage in assassination, and think yourself on the side of the angels, because winning is just that important. It’s very freeing.

          2. If you want a more faux-medical solution, you can liken it to the allergy hygiene hypothesis. People need something to strive against. If their lives are too easy, they either get depressed due to their objectively pointless lives, or they create purpose.

            We’ve seen this sort of behavior from the children of wealthy elites for centuries, who become spoiled, stupid aristocrats. In this case, it seems to be happening to society at large, but primarily among the white, wealthy leisure class. They latch onto every last small oppression as a purpose to eradicate because their personal actions truly do not matter.

    2. I feel sorry for the husband. Never date anyone that is into politics.

      1. And these people say Trump is dividing the people.

        I’ve seen a few liberals on my FB feed that have said it’s time to abandon family members that like Trump and or are racist.

    3. If the husband goes along with it, then you know who is the cuck in that marriage.

  5. I remember when they passed that Brady Law bullshit, they tried to justify it the same way–citing the number of blocked purchases. They would conveniently skip the false negatives. They couldn’t point to any improvement in violent crime but I guess that doesn’t matter to them.

    1. They just want you disarmed and at their mercy by any means necessary.

      1. I also ask — why no prosecutions?

        If you’re trying to buy something you’re not legally permitted to. you are violating the law.

        Why would 100 denials lead to exactly zero prosecutions?

        What good is more gun control laws if there isn’t a real punishment for violating current ones?

        1. That is a good question.

        2. If you’re trying to buy something you’re not legally permitted to. you are violating the law.

          Why would 100 denials lead to exactly zero prosecutions?

          If it works like other attempts by BATFE and others to enforce laws sanctioning illegal attempts to purchase firearms, it’s because enforcing those laws would have a disparate impact upon minorities, and immense bitching would ensue.

          See, for example, Virginia’s Project Exile back in, I want to say, the 1990s, where VA and the Feds made felon-in-possession enforcement a priority. No more pleading out: it was 10 years, serve 8.5, in a federal prison if you got caught with a gun and you were a felon. It was wildly successful. Violence rates in the area went down. And it locked up a fuckton of black folks. Whose representatives complained.

          Gun control laws aren’t about reducing crime. They’re about increasing control.

          1. I had never thought of that. That is a very interesting question.

          2. Gun control laws are all unconstitutional violations of the 2A. Every single one.

            The idea is to get guns out of many people’s hands as possible with the rest of the USA allowing it to happen.

            Ex-felons are a disapproved of group, so they were one of the first groups to have their 2A rights violated. Then it was those who committed a certain misdemeanor. Then is was people labeled with some mental issue. Now it is “Red Flag” claims.

            The government knows that mass roundup of guns would lead to Civil War 2.0, so they do it incrementally. Incrementalism has worked very well for authoritarians in the USA.

          3. “It was wildly successful. Violence rates in the area went down. And it locked up a fuckton of black folks.”

            Similar with Giuliani in the 90s. Stop and Frisk was a major tool he used to get guns off the street. NYC has mandatory sentencing for gun possession.

            It did help clean up NYC though.

            1. People can say “Look, ending it didn’t cause crime to go up”. And they’d be correct.

              But people often forget what an unmitigated shithole David Dinkins-era NYC was.Well, except for hipsters who miss NYC having “character” and ignoring that they are a big reason why NYC is such a pussy-whipped city.

            2. That and the booming economy created new jobs in New York.

      2. Totalitarians always disarm the citizenry, usually under the guise of reform by promising “safety.” And then bad things happen.

  6. interesting since both of my local gun dealers who just went to state sponsored siminar about the new rules, say you don’t have to have the new ID and my recently renewed ID is two years old but is not the new id and does not say “Federal limits apply” while a relative who just got one does say federal limits apply. based on this confusion alone i would say the law is bogus by intentional confusion on the states part.

    1. Supposedly if you don’t have the REAL ID you can use the old one if you have additional supporting documents (basically the same documents you’d need to get a REAL ID)

  7. From the El Paso shooter’s manifesto.

    The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products. I just want to say that I love the people in this country, but god damn most of y’all re just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.

    Then there is paragraph which somehow the media doesn’t consider important

    My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I am putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that.

    But Trump inspired him to do it.

    1. “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”

      Typical Green Deep Ecology bullshit. Somehow they’re never the ones volunteering to go to the disintegration chambers.

      The road to Utopia is always lined with the newly dead.

      1. Yes, this guy surrendered to the cops. He didn’t do this to commit suicide.

        1. I’ll also note Paul Ehrlich is still alive. I guess that population bomb doesn’t include him.

  8. See? No one is coming to take your guns.

  9. This reportedly includes “customers whose job entails gun use, including some serving in the United States military . . .

    Ah, what? Uhm, guys – the US military *provides us with ammo*. We don’t have to go buy our own.

    So, no, no one in the military will ever be unable to do their job because they couldn’t buy ammo from a local store. That’s not how it works.

    That’s just making shit up for the drama and it *detracts* from the perceived seriousness of your case when you’re saying military personnel won’t be able to get bullets for their work guns when what you’re really saying is that they couldn’t get ammunition for their recreational shooting – like everyone else.

    1. But they can, because their military ID is a federal ID that complies with REAL ID. That whole part of the article was stupid and misinformed.

    2. I interpreted the point as being that such people ought to be regarded as sufficiently good citizens that lack of “Real ID” shouldn’t be cause to turn them away. But your interpretation is equally valid and it should be written better.

    3. You’re reading something that isn’t there, nowhere does it say they won’t be able to do their job if they can’t buy ammo, it says their “job entails gun use” you even quote that part yourself

      The point he is making is that it’s silly claim someone who uses a gun in the daily work isn’t qualified to purchase ammo in CA

    4. I can say that reordering the list would remove that false impression. However, it is clear enough in its meaning. Not wrong, but better editing would help.

  10. How about requiring Real ID to buy gasoline, which is much more dangerous than ammo?

    1. Shh don’t give them any ideas

      1. They pretty much already have. I’m not walking to the gas station, so I need my Real ID driver’s license to allow me the privilege of driving there.

  11. 2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    All Arms control laws in the USA are unconstitutional violations of the 2A.

  12. The law is a feel good law that in the end will do nothing. People will choose to go to other states and buy ammunition and carry it back into California or load their own. This law was intended to make it so difficult to buy ammo that most people would simply not do it. It is a law written my leftist, urban politician with no experience or knowledge about large segments of the people they are supposed to represent. It is also a good example of why the US Constitution has so many limitations on the power of the Federal government as well as checks and balances. California is a good example of what happens when one party grabs and holds all the power. The only thing they have actually shown is government unchecked will do exactly what the Founders feared, restrict and repeal the rights of the individual. The common person is unable to get a license to carry in California because defending yourself is not considered a valid reason, but that is the very reason one was granted to Diane Feinstein. She wants to take away your right to self defense, but not her own.

    1. So red flag her as bat shit crazy, and get the gun taken away.

  13. First, gun control.
    Then, ammunition control.
    Finally, total control.
    That’s the progressive way in California.

  14. Yeah, this is a backdoor attempt to try to limit the Second Amendment.

    Kinda like poll taxes in Jim Crow states were a backdoor attempt to try to limit voting rights of blacks.

    Wish these busybodies would find a constructive hobby instead of wasting everyone’s time with this nonsense.

    1. Yes, I recall it was, oh, just after Heller, that some lunatics on the left started discussing this sort of thing. “Maybe the Court says you have a right to own guns, but that doesn’t mean we can’t deny you ammo! So we’ll just put a thousand percent tax on it!”

      Like any sane person would expect that to pass constitutional muster.

      1. It doesn’t have to pass Constitutional muster, it just has to pass John Paul Steven’s or [FILL IN PROGRESSIVE LEGALIST NAME HERE] interpretation of the Constitution. That’s why lefties are always so apoplectic about conservatives appointing literate and historically literate Justices to SCOTUS, its why they want to pack the court…they HAVE to control the court to push through their terrible policies.

  15. Future CA = See Detroit

  16. “When the law prevents citizens from purchasing ammunition “until the purchaser can prove that they are not prohibited persons,” the law’s challengers argue, that “flips constitutional order on its head. The State has the burden to prove that a person is not entitled to exercise a right—not the other way around.”

    Correct: SCOTUS has often and firmly asserted that a right may not be taken other then by proof by the government. The citizen does not need to prove he has the right.

    This is why Red Flag laws will be overturned — by only after far too many people’s reputations and lives are ruined by false accusations.

  17. Just to be clear:

    ID required for voting = SUPER Racist, and completely unnecessary even though Russia is trying to steal our elections on behalf of “fascists”…

    ID required for purchasing arms and ammunition = NOT Racist at all, and super necessary to keep 4 or more people from being “mass murdered*”

    *Only by guns. Knives, hammers, box trucks, and illegaly imported Serbian guns may still be used, especially outside of the USA.

  18. This is a ‘how to’ on creating a black market.

  19. Liberals’ rage against the 2nd Amendment proves the Founders’ wisdom in including it.

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