A coalition of gun rights organizations plus three individual plaintiffs have sued California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Department of Justice over newly adopted regulations concerning the assault weapons ban on bullet buttons. The suit was filed in California Superior Court for the County of Riverside.
The institutional plaintiffs – SAF, CalGuns Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, and Firearms Policy Foundation – released a joint statement on the lawsuit.
Gun Owners & Civil Rights Groups File Legal Challenge to California’s “Assault Weapon” Regulations
The lawsuit argues that the State’s “bullet-button assault weapon” regulations are largely unlawful, should have been subject to the Administrative Procedure Act process, waste taxpayer dollars, and should not be allowed to stand.
SACRAMENTO, CA (November 30, 2017) — Today, attorneys for four individual gun owners as well as advocacy organizations The Calguns Foundation (CGF), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) filed a new lawsuit and petition for writ of mandate that challenges more than a dozen new “assault weapon” regulations ramrodded into effect by the State of California’s Department of Justice (DOJ).
Named as defendants are California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Chief of the DOJ Bureau of Firearms Stephen Lindley, the California Department of Justice itself, Director of the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) Debra Cornez, and State Controller Betty Yee.
Plaintiffs’ attorney George M. Lee said that the lawsuit was focused on protecting law-abiding people from illegal regulatory and enforcement actions.
“By making and enforcing unlawful rules, and going around the rules to do it, the DOJ is putting tens if not hundreds of thousands of law-abiding people at risk of serious criminal liability,” said Lee. “This case seeks to make the DOJ follow the same laws they impose on others and protect law-abiding gun owners in the process.”
“The DOJ is acting like an out-of-control bullet train that’s running off the rails,” said plaintiffs’ attorney and former Deputy Attorney General Raymond DiGuiseppe. “Our plaintiffs want to get the State’s agencies back on the tracks and following the law.”
CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman notes, “The DOJ has used every trick in the book to avoid good faith rulemaking action, and we cannot allow that to go unchallenged. California laws are bad enough without piling on unlawful and harmful regulations, so we seek here to restore the rule of law—and some sanity.”
“The government agencies responsible for enforcing the law must also follow the law,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said. “This case is an important step in protecting law-abiding gun owners from an out-of-control regulatory state.”
“The DOJ is playing a dangerous game with the law, and it needs to stop,” observed FPF Vice President Jonathan Jensen. “Tens of thousands of people could face potential felonies in just a handful of months, and meanwhile the DOJ has moved the goalposts with the registration clock ticking.”
“The State of California is nothing short of bipolar with its gun control policies,” commented FPC President Brandon Combs. “On one hand, the State is requiring people to register virtually all of their guns. On the other hand, the DOJ is doing everything it can to suppress compliance and prevent people from registering their guns.”
A copy of the complaint and petition for writ of mandate can be viewed or downloaded at http://bit.ly/holt-v-becerra.
Last July, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a number of new gun control bills into law, including two (SB 880, Hall; AB 1135, Levine) expanding the State’s ban on so-called “assault weapons.”
“The Legislature ignored every rule in the book to fast-track their civilian disarmament agenda and herd the people into a state-wide gun-free-zone,” said FPC Spokesperson Craig DeLuz in a statement at the time.
Following that, last December, the California DOJ submitted its first attempt at “assault weapons” regulations under the OAL’s “File & Print” process, which means that the DOJ claimed the regulations were not subject to the public notice or comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
However, DOJ withdrew the regulations near the end of OAL review period after receiving thousands of opposition letters from FPC members and Second Amendment supporters.
Then, in May of this year, the DOJ re-submitted regulations under the same “File & Print” process. FPC, FPF, CGF, and Craig DeLuz sued the DOJ over the Department’s actions of blocking access to public records concerning its promulgation of these regulations. The regulations were completely rejected by OAL a little more than a month later.
Following that, the DOJ submitted a virtually-identical set of regulations under the “File & Print” process, again claiming “APA-exempt” status. The OAL approved those regulations in July, allowing the DOJ to go forward with its new “assault weapon” regulatory process.
Then, just before closing doors for the Thanksgiving holiday, the DOJ notified FPC and other Institutional Plaintiffs that it had filed yet another proposed rulemaking on “bullet-button assault weapons” (that would create new 11 CCR § 5460) for the purpose of bootstrapping its prior July regulations into effect for all purposes including criminal prosecutions.
FPC published the new proposed regulations and prior regulatory updates at BulletButtonBan.com, a Web site it established in 2016 for tracking the new California assault weapon laws and regulations. Members of the public can use FPC’s Grassroots Action Tools to submit responsive written comments to DOJ regarding the new proposed regulations.
A public hearing on the new regulations is scheduled for 10 a.m. on January 8, 2018, at the Resources Building Auditorium in Sacramento.
ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL PLAINTIFFS:
Plaintiffs George Holt, Irvin Hoff, Michael Louie, and Rick Russell are all law-abiding, tax-paying residents of California who lawfully own firearms potentially subject to the DOJ’s illegal regulatory scheme. This scheme would retroactively deem their firearms “assault weapons” that either must now be registered as such through a burdensome and wasteful registration process or that cannot be registered all, effectively rendering any continued possession unlawful. The DOJ’s regulations expose them to criminal liability that would not otherwise exist under the actual laws regulating firearms in California.
The plaintiffs have joined this lawsuit to stand against the illegal regulatory actions of the DOJ and protect their rights and the rights of countless other law-abiding California gun owners being placed in jeopardy.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS:
The Calguns Foundation (www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves its members, supporters, and the public through educational, cultural, and judicial efforts to advance Second Amendment and related civil rights.
Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, through advocacy, legal action, education, and outreach.
Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.