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New California Gun Laws Experience A Week Of Setbacks

Dickson Phua / Flickr

Dickson Phua / Flickr

It was a tough week for California’s new, tighter gun restrictions, which lawmakers and voters approved last year.

A federal judge in San Diego yesterday blocked the state’s new ban on possessing magazines of more than 10 rounds. That was hours after another federal judge declined to block the ban, but the injunction takes precedence.

UC Davis law professor Carlton Larson says these kinds of conflicting rulings are not unheard of.

“To some extent the blame has to rest on the U.S. Supreme Court, itself, which has refused since 2010 to hear any Second Amendment cases,” Larson says. “With the result that lower courts are sort of left to hash this stuff out on their own, and there’s a lot of conflicting rulings.”

The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on next steps, but an appeal seems likely, says Ari Freilich, staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which supported the defense.

“We are confident DOJ (the state Department of Justice) will quickly appeal this decision to the Ninth Circuit,” Freilich says.

The lawsuits are two of several the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups say they are launching against all aspects of California’s new laws, which they have dubbed “Gunmageddon.”

No bullet button registry, yet

Separately, new rules for rifles with magazines that can be detached with the tip of a bullet failed to make it through state review.

The state Office of Administrative Law is a quasi-judicial entity that analyzes new regulations, before publishing them in the official California Code of Regulations. But it rejected Department of Justice regulations that would implement a section of the gun laws that require owners to register weapons with “bullet buttons.”

It did not publish reasons for the rejection, but the justice department attempted to finalize the regulations through an expedited process that does not include public comment. That would trigger the denial if any part of the rules require the standard, months-long rulemaking process, which includes public comments and agency responses.

It’s the second public setback for the department as it attempts to create the bullet button registry. The agency previously withdrew emergency rules it issued, after gun rights groups threatened to sue.

The Firearms Policy Coalition argues that the state is deliberately and improperly concealing its proposed rules from public scrutiny. The coalition announced Friday will launch another lawsuit to demand to see the rules.

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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