“You Can’t Stop The Signal, Mal”

As I noted earlier this evening, Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order preventing Defense Distributed, the Second Amendment Foundation, and Conn Williamson from posting code files for 3-D printing and CNC machining of certain firearms. However, once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s out. Or in this case, once the code “escaped” to the Internet, it’s out and there is not a damn thing the gun control lobby, the gun prohibitionists, ideologue state attorney generals, or Constitution-ignoring judges can do about it.

Tonight, a new website was established by a coalition of civil and firearms rights groups has been set up and it has a number of files pertaining to 3-D printing and CNC machining on it. The site is called CodeIsFreeSpeech.com. I would encourage everyone to go to that website and download each and every file on it. You may never use the file nor even have a desire to engage in making your own firearm. Nonetheless, the more copies of each and every one of these files that out in the ether of the Internet, the less likely any attempt to stop it will be successful. Think of them as Freedom Files.

The coalition of groups behind this new website issued this release announcing the website – which by the way is up and running – and their intent behind doing so. None of these groups were parties to any of the lawsuits concerning the files of Defense Distributed.

SACRAMENTO, CA (July 31, 2018) — Tonight, the organizations and individuals behind
a new Web site for the publication and sharing of firearm-related
speech, including machine code, have issued the following statement:
Constitution’s First Amendment secures the right of all people to
engage in truthful speech, including by sharing information contained in
books, paintings, and files. Indeed, freedom of speech is a bedrock
principle of our United States and a cornerstone of our democratic
Republic. Through
we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of
our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials
disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is
code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom.
any tyrants wish to chill or infringe the rights of the People, we
would welcome the opportunity to defend freedom whenever, wherever, and
however necessary. Hand-waving and hyperbole are not compelling
government interests and censorship is not proper tailoring under the
is no doubt that Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed have inspired
countless Americans to exercise their fundamental, individual rights,
including through home gunsmithing. Through
we hope to promote the collection and dissemination of truthful,
non-misleading speech, new and evolving ideas, and the advancement of
the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
is a publicly-available Web site for truthful, non-misleading speech
and information that is protected under the United States Constitution.
The purpose of this project is to allow people to share knowledge and
empower them to exercise their fundamental, individual rights. CodeIsFreeSpeech.com
is a project of Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation,
The Calguns Foundation, California Association of Federal Firearms
Licensees, and a number of individuals who are passionate about the
Constitution and individual liberties.
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.
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.
California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (www.calffl.org)
is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization serving its members and the public
through direct and grassroots issue advocacy, regulatory input, legal
efforts, and education. CAL-FFL’s membership includes firearm dealers,
training professionals, shooting ranges, licensed collectors, others who
participate in the firearms ecosystem.

A Nice Win For Gun Rights In A California Appeals Court

Prior to a letter sent out by the California Department of Justice in 2014, holders of Curios and Relics Federal Firearm Licenses who also had a certificate of eligibility were exempt from the one handgun a month rule. That changed when the DOJ’s Bureau of Firearms issued a letter to all dealers in California that said, in effect, that C&R FFLs would not exempt holders from the one handgun a month rule with regards to modern handguns. The Calguns Foundation and Cal-FFL brought suit in 2014 challenging this as a violation of the state’s Adminstrative Procedures Act, contradicted the plain language of Sec. 27535, and ignored the legislative history of the one handgun a month law. The case sought a preliminary injunction in California Superior Court.

The trial court found that the Bureau of Firearm’s interpretation of the law was “the only legally tenable interpretation of Sec. 27535” and granted the DOJ’s motion of summary judgement. The case was appealed to the California Court of Appeal, 3rd Appellate District which today overturned the trial court.

From the court’s opinion:

On appeal, plaintiffs argue the interpretation DOJ announced in 2014 is void
because (1) it is inconsistent with section 27535 and (2) it was not adopted in compliance
with the APA. We agree with plaintiffs and address their arguments in reverse order.
Regarding their second argument, we conclude DOJ’s policy is not exempt from being
promulgated under the APA because it does not embody “the only legally tenable
interpretation” of the statute. (Gov. Code, § 11340.9, subd. (f).) Having decided that
DOJ’s 2014 interpretation of section 27535 is void for failure to comply with the APA,
we resolve any ambiguity regarding the proper construction of the statute and construe it

as allowing individuals with the designated federal license, and certificate of eligibility,
to purchase more than one handgun within 30 days regardless of the type of handgun
being purchased. In doing so, we agree with plaintiffs’ first argument as well. We
reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Calguns and Cal-FFL released this statement on their win today:

SACRAMENTO, CA (February 8, 2018)­­­­­­ – In a published decision issued today, California’s 3rd District Court of Appeal has issued an important new ruling striking down an illegal California Department of Justice (DOJ) gun control enforcement policy on multiple grounds. A copy of the Court of Appeal’s decision can be viewed at www.calgunsfoundation.org/doe.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014, was brought by two individuals after the DOJ’s Bureau of Firearms sent a letter notifying firearms dealers in the state of a new enforcement policy that prevents Californians who hold both a federal firearms license and a state Certificate of Eligibility, or “COE”, from purchasing more than one handgun in any 30-day period. After nearly two years of litigation, and in spite of both the requirements of the State’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and legal precedents on how to interpret statutes, the Sacramento Superior Court upheld the DOJ’s policy. But the Court of Appeal ultimately found that the policy was illegal, agreeing with the plaintiffs on both counts.

“This decision stands for the proposition that Attorney General Becerra and his Department of Justice are not above the law,” explained Brandon Combs, executive director for The Calguns Foundation. “They can’t simply make up the law as they go, without following the rules or having a legal basis in the statutes. The DOJ fabricated and enforced an illegal policy and we put an end to it with this case.”

Combs added that the decision is important for other issues as well, especially because it is citable as precedent. “Today’s decision is perhaps even more important because of the state’s new ammunition and assault weapon laws. Attorney General Becerra has been doing similar things in other areas of state law, and we are eager to show that, like their illegal policy here, those also must be enjoined and struck down.”

Plaintiffs’ attorney Bradley Benbrook of the Sacramento-based Benbrook Law Group hailed the decision. “We are gratified that the court affirmed the important principle that the State can’t take shortcuts when it tries to regulate citizens,” commented Benbrook. “It has to follow the rules.”

Doe, et al. v. Attorney Genera Xavier Becerra, et al. was supported by two California-based civil rights advocacy organizations: The Calguns Foundation, which focuses on legal efforts to protect individuals’ gun rights, and the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, the state’s firearms industry group.

The Calguns Foundation is participating in a lawsuit challenging the DOJ’s “bullet button assault weapons” regulations on similar grounds. More information about that case can be found at http://bit.ly/cgf-holt.

While the golden age of cheap surplus weapons may be over, the Curios and Relics FFL is still valuable. The rule of the Court of Appeals today in California affirms that.

Gun Store Zoning Case Appealed To The Supreme Court

Alameda County, California includes cities such as Oakland, Pleasanton, and Berkeley. It also plays fast and loose with its zoning laws and how they interpret distances. John Teixeira and some associates wanted to open a gun store in an unincorporated area of Alameda County back in 2012. The zoning law there forbids gun stores within 500 feet of a residence, school, or liquor store. Teixeira met those requirements and was given a conditional use permit and variance from his local zoning board of adjustment. Then the Alameda County Board of Supervisors decided to change how distance was measured for zoning purposes. Thus, a survey of all empty lots showed that Teixeira could not meet the “new and improved” standards anywhere in the unincorporated areas of the county.

What the county did was institute a variant of “redlining”. In this case it was used to ban gun stores. In the past it was used to make sure that blacks and other minorities were restricted to living in certain areas. Both are a violation of civil rights.

Given this, Mr. Teixeira sued and was joined in his suit by the Second Amendment Foundation, the California Association of Federal Firearm Licensees, and the Calguns Foundation along with two other individual plaintiffs. The case was lost in US District Court but was initially a win before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I’m sure you can guess the rest of the story. The anti-gun judges of the 9th Circuit forced it into an en banc hearing in which they agreed with the District Court and negated the win.

Yesterday the plaintiffs in the case filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court asking for a writ of certiorari. The attorneys on the case are Don Kilmer and Alan Gura. The brief can be found here.

The plaintiffs issued the following statement of the appeal:

Supreme Court Asked to Review Alameda County Gun Store Ban

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 9, 2018)­­­­­­ – Attorneys for three civil rights advocacy organizations and three individuals have filed a petition seeking United State Supreme Court review of a controversial 2017 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld an Alameda County, California law effectively banning gun stores within the unincorporated area of the county. A copy of the petition (and other case documents) can be viewed at https://www.calgunsfoundation.org/teixeira.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2012, challenged a county ordinance that prohibits gun stores from being located within 500 feet of places that include residentially zoned districts. But, according to a scientific study conducted by the plaintiffs that included a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) evaluation of all parcels in Alameda County, there are no lots within the unincorporated county that meet the ordinance’s 500-foot-rule requirements.

On appeal, the plaintiffs won before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. But that opinion was vacated and reversed following an en banc rehearing before the full appeals court. Now the case is being appealed to the nation’s highest court.

“You simply cannot allow local governments to ignore the Second Amendment because they don’t like how the Supreme Court has ruled on the amendment twice in the past ten years,” noted Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “You shouldn’t be able to zone the Second Amendment out of the Bill of Rights.”

“Local neighbors who live eight lanes across an interstate and the anti-rights politicians that cater to them can’t redline gun stores and the right to buy arms out of existence,” noted The Calguns Foundation’s Chairman, Gene Hoffman. “Since this case was filed multiple local city and county governments have used unconstitutional zoning laws to stop new gun stores from opening and close down existing gun stores. If this was a book store or an abortion clinic, the Ninth Circuit would not have hesitated in striking this zoning regulation unanimously.”

“The Supreme Court declared that the Second Amendment was not a second-class right, but lower courts are ignoring that and holding otherwise—and so far, they’ve been getting away with it. We hope this case gets individual liberty back on track,” added California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees’ founder and Executive Vice President Brandon Combs.

“The federal courts exist, in part, to protect fundamental rights that might not be popular in certain jurisdictions,” noted California attorney Don Kilmer, who represents the plaintiffs. “Today, in the Ninth Circuit, those are gun rights. Tomorrow, who knows? One question presented by this case is whether our rights are subject to only one Constitution, or do those rights change from state to state?”

Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is joined in the case by California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (CAL-FFL), The Calguns Foundation (CGF), and three businessmen, John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga, and Gary Gamaza. They are represented by Virginia attorney Alan Gura and California attorney Don Kilmer.

CalGuns And Cal-FFL Have To Take AG Kamala Harris To Court – Again

In a release sent out on Tuesday, the CalGuns Foundation and Cal-FFL have announced that they are or will be suing California Attorney General Kamala Harris over a new policy she has implemented for the California Department of Justice. The new policy limits those who have a California issued certificate of eligibility and a federal firearms license to the purchase of one handgun per month. They assert that Harris’ reinterpretation of an existing statute is contrary to the meaning of the law itself.

From their joint release announcing the lawsuit:

California Attorney General Kamala Harris Sued Over New Handgun Purchase Ban

Gun rights groups back lawsuit to restore the right to buy handguns in the Golden State.

(Sacramento, CA – May 20, 2014) – California Attorney General Kamala Harris continues to substitute anti-gun policies for black letter law, say California gun rights groups The Calguns Foundation (CGF) and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (CAL-FFL).

In a new lawsuit filed today against the state’s highest law enforcement officer and Department of Justice firearms bureau chief Stephen Lindley, plaintiffs Alvin Doe–who is using a fictitious name to protect their privacy due to a fear of criminal prosecution and retaliation–and Paul Gladden say that “the DOJ’s new [handgun] enforcement policy is contrary to the plain language” of the law.

The case challenges a recently enacted DOJ policy that denies people who have both a DOJ-issued “Certificate of Eligibility” to purchase firearms and a federal firearms license the ability to purchase more than one handgun in a thirty-day period. Holders of these licenses and certificates, such as the plaintiffs, have successfully completed rigorous fingerprint-based background checks that include full investigations of all state and federal criminal and mental health databases. The policy, say the plaintiffs, is simply not consistent with the law and does nothing to enhance public safety.

“The Attorney General’s new policy blocks individuals from exercising rights that the Legislature granted them,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Bradley Benbrook of Sacramento-based law firm Benbrook Law Group. The firm, which recently filed a brief to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of 33 members of Congress in support of the Second Amendment right to carry handguns for self-defense, is asking the court for an injunction against the DOJ policy.

“Ms. Harris’ attempt to restrict lawful handgun sales by reinterpreting a 15 year old statute is entirely inconsistent with the democratic process and separation of powers,” said CAL-FFL President Brandon Combs.

Continued Combs, “Her latest ban is nothing short of an attempt to choke off handgun purchases and shutter California gun dealers. We cannot stand by and let her hostility towards the gun rights culture go unchallenged.”

“The Attorney General is there to be the chief law enforcement officer, not to make up laws to fit her policy preferences,” explained Gene Hoffman, chairman of The Calguns Foundation. “We look forward to the courts rejecting her extralegal interpretation.”

The plaintiffs expect to file their motion for preliminary injunction on Friday and are cautiously optimistic that the case will be heard within the next month.

65,000 Is A Start. Still Time To Send More

This morning Brandon Combs of the Firearms Policy Coalition and Craig DeLuz of Cal-FFL delivered 65,000 letters to the office of Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) asking him to veto the 14 gun bills sitting on his desk. He has until October 14th to either sign or veto these bills. Bills that he doesn’t veto become law with or without his signature.

image dsc

Brandon Combs, managing director of the Firearms Policy Coalition,
left, and Craig DeLuz, legislative advocate for California Association
of Federal Firearms Licensees, deliver about 65,000 petitions urging the
governor’s veto of 14 gun bills. Credit: The Sacramento Bee/Christopher
. Link to story.

From the Firearms Policy Coalition’s release which includes a link to send a letter to Gov. Brown:

SACRAMENTO, CA — Earlier this morning, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) Managing Director Brandon Combs, joined by California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (CAL-FFL) Legislative Advocate Craig DeLuz, delivered 65,000 letters from individuals urging California Governor Jerry Brown to veto the 14 gun control bills currently on his desk.

The gun bills include SB 374, a massive new ban on common semi-automatic rifles authored by Senate President Darrell Steinberg, as well as laws that would ban firearm repair parts, handgun sales, lead ammunition for hunting, and exempt the City of Oakland from longstanding state laws that preempt dangerous localized gun registration schemes, among others.

“We sincerely appreciate the thousands of people who have voiced their concerns to the governor on these anti-gun measures. 65,000 letters sends a very loud-and-clear message: Californians just don’t want these horrible new laws,” said CAL-FFL’s DeLuz of the tremendous turnout by California gun owners.

FPC’s Brandon Combs said that that the fight is far from over and noted that people should keep calling and writing the Governor’s office every day. “We encourage all gun owners and Second Amendment supporters to send Governor Brown a letter through our fast, easy, and free gun rights activism tools at www.DemandRights.com.”

“We will keep printing, faxing, and emailing letters to Governor Brown until the very end,” continued Combs. “Gun owners simply must keep up the pressure for these final few days.”

Governor Brown has until October 14, 2013 to sign or veto the bills. Bills that are not vetoed will become state law. Governor Brown’s State Capitol office phone number is (916) 445-2841.

If stopping these bad bills isn’t enough, you will still have a chance to win a Benelli M4 shotgun that they are giving away to anyone who uses their site to send a message to Gov. Brown. That seems like a win-win to me.

Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire To Be Shown In California State Capitol Building

The movie Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire will be shown, in of all places, the California Capitol Building. Given the assaults on gun and civil rights that have taken place in both the California Senate and Assembly, I can’t think of a better place to show that movie. While I doubt that it will change any of the narrow minds of the gun prohibitionist politicians, the symbolism is enough.

From the release about the event by Cal-FFL along with details of this showing and another public one in Sacramento:

CAL-FFL, California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly to Co-Host Showing of Gun Rights Documentary Inside California Capitol Building

Aug. 28th public screening at the Crest Theatre follows private Capitol screening at noon; CAL-FFL giving away 100 free movie tickets and posters for the public screening.

SACRAMENTO, CA (August 22, 2013) — Second Amendment civil rights are under fire by the California Legislature, according to leading industry and consumer group California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (CAL-FFL). To help underscore the point, civil rights advocates have taken their argument to the big screen — and are now bringing the big screen to the Capitol Building through the efforts of top-rated Assembly member Tim Donnelly (District 33 – Hesperia) and CAL-FFL.

In conjunction with CAL-FFL, Donnelly, who’s already declared his candidacy for the 2014 gubernatorial election, will host a private screening of the Second Amendment-focused documentary ‘Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire’ inside the State Capitol to educate members of the Legislature and staff about this historic civil rights struggle.

“We are honored that Assemblyman Donnelly chose to present our film on civil rights to his colleagues – the very elected members who are working hard to pass bills that would effectively end the Second Amendment in California for many years to come,” said Emmy Award-winning producer and writer Kris Koenig, the film’s writer and director. “Most of these bills aren’t even rationally related to actual crime data. Our research and film clearly shows that these bills won’t improve public safety. If they watch the film they will come to understand why.”

“I spent the last eighteen months of my life creating this film because I saw our rights being wholesaled off for political gain with no real benefit to public safety,” continued Koenig. “It’s like the NSA invading our privacy with no real connection to global terrorism.”

The Los Angeles Times called ‘Assaulted’, narrated by critically-acclaimed rapper and actor Ice-T, “a reasoned counter to Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine’.” The film takes a step back from the public discourse on issues like banning assault rifles and restricting magazine capacity. Instead of heavy rhetoric, ‘Assaulted’ offers a unique historical and legal perspective on the Second Amendment’s significance over the years since America’s founding, taking a critical and objective look at current gun laws and their effect on civil rights and liberty. The film includes commentary by preeminent UCLA constitutional law professors Adam Winkler and Eugene Volokh as well as attorney Alan Gura, the lawyer who secured 2 major victories for gun owners in landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Interviews include Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, Margot Bennett, executive director of Women Against Gun Violence, and the advocate/entertainer Ted Nugent.

“California’s gun control movement has always been about keeping ‘those people’ from exercising their rights,” said Craig DeLuz, CAL-FFL’s Legislative Advocate. “In the 1800s, ‘those people’ were the Chinese and Native Americans. In the 1960s, it was the Black Panthers. Today, you and I are ‘those people’ – ‘Assaulted’ shows how we got here and why we have to avoid repeating the same gun control mistakes we’ve made in decades past that continue to cost innocent people their lives.”

“The opportunity to educate the members of the California Legislature and their staff about the civil rights aspect of the gun control bills they’re working to pass as we speak is just tremendous. We simply cannot thank Assemblyman Donnelly enough for his generosity and tireless efforts to defend our fundamental Second Amendment rights,” said Brandon Combs, President of CAL-FFL and Managing Director of the national Firearms Policy Coalition.

Continued Combs, “We hope that all public officials and senior staff of agencies like DOJ will watch the film and give real thought to the arguments made regardless of their personal views. When lawmakers make mistakes writing gun laws innocent people go to jail, period. Getting caught in the dangerous, confusing, and expanding gun control spider web is not a very pleasant future for millions of law-abiding California gun owners, visitors, and local businesses.”

CAL-FFL will be hosting a public screening of ‘Assaulted’ at the Crest Theatre, located at 1013 K St., at 6 p.m. that same evening. CAL-FFL is giving away free tickets to the first 100 people who RSVP and request tickets at http://www.calffl.org/assaultedtickets. All Crest attendees will receive an ‘Assaulted’ movie poster that can be signed by Koenig.

Government officials, staff, and members of the press can request a complementary ticket to the 6 p.m. screening at the Crest Theatre by emailing Craig DeLuz at cdeluz@calffl.org or by calling him at (916) 595-0264. Tickets may also be purchased for $12 from Tugg at http://www.tugg.com/events/5116.

Participants are invited to join Kris Koenig, Craig DeLuz, and Brandon Combs for discussion and Q&A about the film, gun control in California, and the status of Second Amendment litigation immediately following the 6 p.m. showing at the restaurant Pizza Rock, located at 1020 K St., just steps away from the Crest Theatre.


WHAT: Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire (Private Screening)
WHEN: August 28, 2013 – 12 Noon

WHERE: California State Capitol Building

WHAT: Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire (Public Screening)
WHEN: August 28, 2013 – 6 p.m.
WHERE: Crest Theatre (1013 K St., Sacramento, CA 95814)

Strange Bedfellows

Politics and the fight for civil rights can sometimes create strange alliances that normally would never occur. A case in point is a lawsuit filed yesterday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the National Security Agency on behalf of 19 wildly different organizations. The plaintiffs include a diverse group including the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, Greenpeace, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Council on American Islamic Relations Foundation, and the CalGuns Foundation. Other gun related entities in the lawsuit include Franklin Armory and the Cal-FFL.

From the EFF press release on the lawsuit:

“The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA’s mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Who we call, how often we call them, and how long we speak shows the government what groups we belong to or associate with, which political issues concern us, and our religious affiliation. Exposing this information – especially in a massive, untargeted way over a long period of time – violates the Constitution and the basic First Amendment tests that have been in place for over 50 years.”

At the heart of First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA is the bulk telephone records collection program that was confirmed by last month’s publication of an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) further confirmed that this formerly secret document was legitimate, and part of a broader program to collect all major telecommunications customers’ call histories. The order demands wholesale collection of every call made, the location of the phone, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for every phone and call for all customers of Verizon for a period of three months. Government officials further confirmed that this was just one of series of orders issued on a rolling basis since at least 2006.

“People who hold controversial views – whether it’s about gun ownership policies, drug legalization, or immigration – often must express views as a group in order to act and advocate effectively,” said Cohn. “But fear of individual exposure when participating in political debates over high-stakes issues can dissuade people from taking part. That’s why the Supreme Court ruled in 1958 that membership lists of groups have strong First Amendment protection. Telephone records, especially complete records collected over many years, are even more invasive than membership lists, since they show casual or repeated inquiries as well as full membership.”

The lawsuit, First Unitarian Church of LA et al v. National Security Agency et al, was filed yesterday in US District Court for the Northern District of California. It names the NSA, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the United States as defendants along with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Attorney General Eric Holder,  Acting Asst. AG for National Security John Carlin, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The officials named are being sued in both their official and individual capacities.

The lawsuit contends that the NSA’s Associational Tracking Program which collects and stores records of all telephone calls made within the United States and the related searches made of that database “without a valid, particularized warrant suipported by probable cause violate the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.”

The suit contends in Count 1 that the defendants have violated the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association and that their actions serve to chill these rights by threatening disclosure of their political and other associations. Count 2 asserts that the defendants have violated the plaintiffs’ “reasonable expectations of privacy and denied Plaintiffs their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures” as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Count 3 contends that the plaintiffs’ privacy rights and their Fifth Amendment rights to substantial and procedural due process were violated by the defendants.

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment that the NSA program violates Constitutional rights and both preliminary and permanent injunctions against continued use of the Associational Tracking Program. They also want the government to provide an inventory of all records seized under the Program and then to destroy them.

I think the premise of a lawsuit against the NSA based upon an extension of the 1950s era Supreme Court rulings concerning the NAACP and others membership list is both valid and ingenious. It is hard to argue that a program that has at its very heart the tracking of associational relationships is not an extension of a membership list. That this lawsuit was brought in the District of Northern California and, by extension, the Ninth Circuit is a wise move given the historic deference paid to First Amendment issues by those courts. It will be very interesting to see the government’s response to this suit.

UPDATE: The participation of the CalGuns Foundation caught the attention of the Washington Times. They interviewed Gene Hoffman about the case and CalGuns participation in it.

Gene Hoffman, the chairman of the Calguns Foundation, said that “California gun owners are, shall we say, understandably paranoid” about the idea that government agencies might be recording the number, destination and duration of their phone calls — even if they weren’t actually listening in.

California’s “gun laws are relatively byzantine and intricate,” he said, so Calgun Foundation had “set up a hotline for people who get in trouble through their lawful ownership of firearms or who have questions about whether something they are going to do might be prohibited.”

“The stereotype of gun-owners being paranoid turned out to be true,” he said, noting that “people were turning to our hotline and using the phone specifically because they didn’t want to have a record created.”

The 1958 Supreme Court case NAACP vs. Alabama barred the state government from compelling disclosure of the NAACP’s membership list because of its chilling effect on free association.

“Telephone records, especially complete records collected over many years, are even more invasive than membership lists, since they show casual or repeated inquiries as well as full membership,” said Ms. Cohn.

Mr. Hoffman agreed, noting that — in the case of callers to the Calguns hotline — it was the potential for cross-referencing that most alarmed people.

California law bans medical marijuana patients from gun ownership, for instance, so “if you were known to have phoned both us and NORML, it could cause people to ask questions questions you really didn’t want to be asked,” he said.

Cal Bureau of Firearms Slapped Down For Unlawful “Underground Regulation”

The California Office of Administrative Law just slapped down the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms for their “underground regulation” of “assault weapons”. The Bureau of Firearms was refusing corporations permits to own so-called assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles contending only individuals could obtain these permits.

I’ll let the release from Cal-FFL complete the story:

Reference: CA OAL determination at http://www.scribd.com/doc/103439872/Cal-FFL-2012-OAL-Determination-re-DOJ-Corporation-AW-Permits

MORGAN HILL, CA – In a significant decision for firearms manufacturers, dealers, and purchasers throughout California, the State of California’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL) determined that the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms’ prohibition against the issuance of “assault weapon” permits to corporations and other entities to be an unlawful “underground regulation.” Jay Jacobson of Franklin Armory petitioned the Office of Administrative Law after being informed by the Bureau of Firearms that only “individuals” could apply for permits.

“As a California businessman, I strive to comply with all requirements of the law – and so must DOJ,” said Jacobson. “Companies in the firearms industry, like ours, often face a dilemma of whether to stand up and challenge the regulatory agency that holds licensing authority over them or just accept and submit to unlawful policies. We chose to act in favor of a final resolution and, thankfully, had the support of the firearms community and Cal-FFL.”

As reported by Cal-FFL in April, the DOJ had held steadfast by its opinion that only “individuals” are able to obtain permits to sell “assault weapons” or “.50 BMG Rifles”. However, the express text of Penal Code section 16970 states that “any entity” within the definition of “persons” may obtain such permits. Franklin Armory argued that the DOJ policy conflicted with the express language of the Penal Code, which defines “person” for the purposes of the Assault Weapon Control Act as “an individual, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, association, or any other group or entity, regardless of how it was created.” In spite of the clear language of the Code, DOJ disagreed, arguing that the language does not permit corporations to obtain the requisite permits to manufacture and sell such firearms. OAL’s determination put the matter to rest.

“This has been an issue for years,” said firearms and civil rights attorney Jason Davis. “We had requested that this policy be abandoned in 2003, but the previous administrations refused and the underground regulation was perpetuated. Until Franklin Armory decided to take action, with Cal-FFL’s support, the willingness within the firearms industry to challenge DOJ on this issue simply didn’t exist.”

OAL received comments in support of Franklin Armory’s petition from Brandon Combs of California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, Inc., as well as attorney Clinton B. Monfort of Michel and Associates, P.C.

“This action should eliminate the burden, both financial and procedural, that law-abiding businesses face in this segment of the fast-growing firearms market,” said Brandon Combs of California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, Inc. “Though we often find ourselves on opposite sides of issues, we appreciate the DOJ’s professionalism throughout the process and look forward to working closely with their representatives to ensure a smooth application of this determination.”

The OAL Determination is captioned as 2012 OAL Determination No.8 (OAL FILE NO. CTU2012-0207-01) and can be viewed at http://www.scribd.com/doc/103439872/Cal-FFL-2012-OAL-Determination-re-DOJ-Corporation-AW-Permits.

California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (www.calffl.org) is California’s premier non-profit industry association of, by, and for firearms manufacturers, dealers, collectors, training professionals, shooting ranges, and others, advancing the interests of its members and the general public through strategic litigation, legislative efforts, and education. For more information or to join, please visit Cal-FFL.

Franklin Armory (www.franklinarmory.com) is part of a California corporation that has been in operation for over 20 years and specializes in producing legal firearms for restrictive jurisdictions such as California. They also build full feature firearms for “free” states. Every firearm produced at their facility in Morgan Hill, California, is made with 100% American made parts & materials.

CalGuns Alert On SB 249 – Is It Dead Yet?

There were reports yesterday that California State Sen. Leland Yee’s SB 249 was dead. However, the CalGuns Foundation warns that it may be dead but there still are a few more days left before it can be conclusively called dead.

They released this about the bill and urged those in opposition to keep up the pressure.


Cal-FFL, Calguns Foundation opposition letters cited in official Committee analysis that may be the final straw in breaking SB 249

For Immediate Release: August 14, 2012

Reference: Assembly Appropriations Committee Analysis at http://stopsb249.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/sb249_approps_analysis.pdf

SAN CARLOS, CA, AND MADERA, CA – In spite of bill author Senator Leland Yee’s many assurances to the contrary, even the Assembly Appropriations Committee legislative analysis found that the SB 249 gun ban presents California taxpayers with significant cost impacts.

The analysis determined that, among other major costs, SB 249 would impose “[o]ne-time special fund (Dealer Record of Sale Fund- DROS) costs, likely in excess of $200,000 (the AG’s office estimates about $400,000), for the AG to conform existing regulations regarding the definition of assault weapon to the definition of detachable magazine proposed by this bill.”

Implicit in the Committee’s analysis is that SB 249 is a material legislative change to the Penal Code, which would require new DOJ regulations. Senator Yee and his staff have spent considerable time representing SB 249 to be a “clarification of existing law.” We now have further evidence in the Legislative record supporting our argument that SB 249 would harm California gun owners by creating an entirely new standard for “detachable magazine” firearms.

Up-to-the-minute information acquired by Cal-FFL lobbyist Matt Gray of Capital Alliance and Cal-FFL president Brandon Combs suggests that, while SB 249 may not succeed in passing the Appropriations Committee due to the substantial costs issues, it is premature to consider the bill a non-threat to gun rights.

“SB 249 has been proven to be an outrageous attack on hundreds of millions of dollars of legal private property and law-abiding gun owners. We’re encouraged that the Appropriation Committee’s analysis has affirmed our view that California simply cannot afford Senator Yee’s misguided bill,” said Combs. “We urge all of our members and supporters to continue vigorously opposing SB 249 by calling the members of the Appropriations Committee and using the Take Action tools at our StopSB249.org campaign website.”

The STOP SB 249 Take Action page is located at at http://stopsb249.org/takeaction.

SB249 Gets Even Worse

California State Sen. Leland Yee’s SB 249 has been through many iterations. As you may remember, the bill was introduced in response to a San Francisco TV station’s breathless report about “bullet buttons”. The bill originally banned all “bullet buttons” and then was changed to only ban the use of the MagLock. Now it has been amended again and would ban the possession of all bullet button and/or MagLocked firearms.

The CalGuns Foundations and CalFFL are fighting this tooth and nail. They sent out an update late last night which I’ve put below. It looks like all the major anti-gun politicians in California are piling on as co-sponsors of this terrible bill.

SAN CARLOS, CA, AND MADERA, CA – In an egregious and deliberate move to ban hundreds of thousands of legal firearms and harm law-abiding California gun owners, California Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has amended his bill SB 249 to make possession of all Bullet Button, or “maglocked”, firearms a criminal act as of July 1, 2013. Sen. Yee’s chief-of-staff, Adam Keigwin, has said that California should ban all guns, even bolt-action hunting rifles.

Joining Senator Yee in his effort to take away hundreds of millions of dollars of currently-legal guns are co-authors Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrence), Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), and Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles).

Explaining his support for the gun ban, Senator Steinberg told the Sacramento Bee that “no one will convince me it’s anything other than a joke to say that having multiple clips and semi-automatic weapons that can shoot 100 or more bullets at a time is necessary in this state or in this country. It’s ridiculous.”

Also on record as supporting SB 249, the Los Angeles Times reports Attorney General Kamala Harris as saying, “I applaud the Legislature’s interest in addressing this problem and support efforts to pass legislation needed to” [ban Bullet Button firearms].

SB 249, if it were to become law, would categorically ban all “maglocked” semi-automatic firearms that are in common use, such as those which use the Bullet Button device. SB 249 does not provide for any grandfathering of existing firearms nor does it have a method of compensating gun owners for the firearms the proposed law would require to be destroyed or removed from California. The net effect would be what is perhaps the single largest unconstitutional government taking in California history.

More, SB 249 would subject gun owners to criminal liability as of July 1, 2013, for the mere possession of firearms that Senator Yee and Attorney General Harris have both said are legal under current law. Ex post facto laws, such as SB 249 would create if passed, are expressly unconstitutional.

Interestingly, however, SB 249 would create a de facto requirement that gun owners , hunters, and competitors in California use only “featureless” firearms, such as AR and AK-style guns employing compliance parts like the Solar Tactical KYDEX Grip Wraps, MonsterMan Grips, or Exile Machine’s Hammerhead Grip, which not only allow for the lawful use of factory magazine releases but large-capacity magazines as well. California does not ban the possession of large-capacity magazines. Wes Morris, owner of Ten Percent Firearms, demonstrates this is an excellent YouTube video you can view at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhC8LpHPbRQ.

Senator Yee’s bill is currently before the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is expected to be heard on August 15, though it could be heard as soon as August 8. The bill must pass both the Assembly and the Senate by August 31.

The Calguns Foundation and Cal-FFL, through their pathbreaking grassroots initiative platform StopSB249.org, have created many free, easy-to-use tools for you to help combat this massive gun ban. Please forward this message to your friends, family, favorite gun dealers and manufacturers, and your social networks, like Facebook and Twitter. Working together, we can Stop SB 249 – but we need you to TAKE ACTION NOW!

The SB 249 Fact Sheet is available for download at http://stopsb249.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/sb249_fact_sheet1.pdf.

Donate to The Calguns Foundation and help Stop SB 249.

Stop SB 249’s Take Action page with many free tools to fight SB 249 can be found at http://stopsb249.org/take-action.

Crap like SB 249 is not only a California problem. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in California doesn’t always stay in California. This is especially true when it comes to gun control initiatives such as microstamping which almost passed again in New York State and has been introduced in other states. It is all too easy to say “I live in a free state” or that California gun owners ought to just move.

It is best to think of SB 249 as a festering sore that could infect the rest of the body. It needs to be stopped and stopped hard before it spreads to impact all of us.