District of Columbia DC police
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights. For a deeper dive into the topics discussed here, check out this week in gun rights at FPC

Judge Blocks California Ammo Restriction Law, Ninth Circuit Reinstates It

Finally, some good news from California. On Thursday last week, Judge Roger T. Benitez granted a motion to block California’s new ammunition background check law, which served as a massive encumbrance on the ability of Californians to exercise their right to bear arms.

In a blistering 120-page rebuke, Judge Benitez explained that criminals don’t do background checks, that California’s system is designed to deter law-abiding Californians from participating in ammunition purchases, and if anything, the law works contrary to its (unconstitutional) intended purpose of discouraging ammunition stockpiling, as it encourages people to purchase ammunition in bulk to avoid the hassle of having to undergo frequent background checks.

According to Judge Benitez, not only is the system burdensome, but it has prevented about 16% of all who have attempted to purchase ammunition from doing so due to flaws in the background check system while only about 0.3% of people attempting to purchase were actually banned.

The judge noted what is painfully obvious to anyone with common sense but which clearly eludes the Governor and Attorney General of California – the Second Amendment must necessarily protect the right to acquire, keep, and bear ammunition for use in arms.

It’s refreshing to see reasonable Second Amendment analysis in the 9th Circuit. That said, this is not the end of the case. A preliminary injunction is a temporary order issued while the case is still ongoing. That allowed normal ammunition sales to take place in California consistent with the order. For a short period of time

Not usually one for allowing Constitutional Rights to prevail when it comes to that pesky Second Amendment, the 9th Circus Court of Appeals had nothing better to do at 9:54pm on a Friday night during the Coronavirus lock down, so they issued an emergency stay, blocking Judge Benitez’s injunction. Perhaps the court should have read his scathing 120-page order.

red flag rights due process

California extends Red Flag orders, defying due process AND logic

Red flag orders are bad enough. They deprive people of their rights without giving them their day in court and are often the result of malicious, Karenesque reporting. What’s worse, in California, hearing-less temporary red flag orders stay in place for 21 days before expiration.

Now, thanks to Comrade Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the California Judicial Council, all currently issued ex parte red flag orders are extended another 90 days. That’s three months for those of you in Rio Linda.

The pretext for the extension is intimate partner violence. While that is obviously a concern for everyone, that doesn’t justify suspending due process.

Not only are red flag confiscations facially unconstitutional, but by extending the term of such orders, the government of California is abusing the current pandemic to exercise more control over its residents. This is the type of abuse we have been warning (and suing) about.

In his press release, AG Becerra mentions that the police, who may or may not have ever met the person subject to the order, can request an extension, and that judges can issue a year-long restraining order. Because of the paranoia that arises in an era where you can get the plague just by walking outside, the odds are pretty high that judges reviewing such requests are going to grant them. “Better safe than sorry,” right?

Notice of an allegation and an opportunity to be heard are fundamental to the concept of due process under the Constitution, and an opportunity to be heard means in a reasonable timeframe, not at the leisure of Mr. Becerra or the courts.

Depriving someone of their right to keep and bear arms when they haven’t been convicted of a crime is unacceptable even for a single moment, let alone for almost four months, but I guess the Fifth Amendment doesn’t count during emergencies either.

District of Columbia DC police
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Want to buy a handgun in DC? Proceed directly to the Metro PD.

As of 2018, Washington, D.C.’s population was estimated to be roughly 702,000. The number of commercial firearms businesses? Zero. And the number of people who made themselves available to conduct firearms transfers in the District? One, until this March, when Charles Sykes suddenly stopped accepting new customers.

For perspective, as of 2018 there were 134,091 FFLs in the United States, which means the ratio is roughly 1 FFL per every 2,600 Americans. While Sykes was operating in D.C., the service available was inadequate for would-be or then-current gun owners, and now it is non-existent.

But don’t worry, the D.C. police are on the case, having volunteered to function as the new only FFL in Washington.

That’s right. Instead of paying $125 (the actual amount Sykes charged for transfers, a far cry from the national average of $25) to a stranger for the privilege of obtaining the firearm you already bought, now you must pay the crown directly.

Why did the city step in so quickly? Because Mayor Muriel Bowser had concerns about running into “constitutional issues” or opening the city up to “meddling from outside groups.” If by outside groups she means organizations that care about your ability to exercise your constitutional rights, then she should be concerned.

The D.C. Metro Police Department explained their plan in a memo:

“As always, D.C. residents can go to another state (for example, Maryland or Virginia) and purchase long guns (rifles/shotguns). The dealer will hold the firearm until MPD approves and registers the firearm. Once it is registered, then the D.C. resident can go pick the firearm up from the dealer.”

Handguns, on the other hand, have to come to an in-District FFL. Of which the MPD is the only one.

Surely, we can trust the MPD to do their job in a timely and efficient manner, showing due respect for law, right? Nothing on the record would indicate that any sort of corruption is likely to result from the MPD taking full control of firearms licensing. We definitely haven’t seen that anywhere else, especially not New York. But I digress.

The point here is that while there is now no private FFL available to conduct transfers, people have to rely entirely on a government known to be hostile toward gun rights. Even if Sykes comes back to work once the coronavirus situation has been addressed, the services provided will still be woefully inadequate.

Mayor Bowser wants to eat her cake and have it too by regulating access to firearms by using the most inefficient machine possible to permit people to exercise their rights – the government.

how to be an ffl kitchen table firearms license
courtesy ATF

ATF goes fishing for FFL violations

Picture yourself as the owner of a gun shop. You’re sitting around playing Animal Crossing because your state’s governor, maybe Gavin Newsom or some other clown, has violated the Constitution by shutting down your obviously essential business.

Suddenly the phone rings. It’s the ATF and they want to chat with you about a questionnaire. What do you think they want?

According to the ATF, they just want to help you help yourself. How?

Well, they want you to participate in a short telephone survey, which is “entirely voluntary” and “totally not an inspection.” Forgive me if I’m skeptical.

While they have you on the phone, the ATF rep will ask you questions about your business and your operations, how you’re using your license, and if you have any questions related to Gun Control Act or National Firearms Act operations.

Based on your responses, the caller will take notes possibly feeding the information back to the Federal Firearms Licensing Center for further action.

This is probably a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. If you refuse to answer the call, maybe the ATF moves you up on the inspection list and scrutinizes your operations a little more than usual. Then again, if you answer the call and ask questions, maybe they scrutinize your operations and records because of the questions you asked. Who knows?

Either way, just because business is slow doesn’t mean the ATF should be calling and bothering FFLs who are just trying to earn a buck (or are waiting for permission from their state government to do so).

Canada Shooting
A memorial pays tribute to Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two and a 23-year veteran of the force, along the highway in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Canadian police are investigating at 16 crime scenes after a weekend rampage by a gunman disguised as a police officer left at least 18 dead, including Stevenson, and homes in smoldering ruins in rural communities across Nova Scotia. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

Canada’s spree murderer was prohibited

Last week Canada learned in the most unfortunate way that gun laws can’t stop evil. The perpetrator, who killed 22 people, was banned in 2002 from possessing firearms as the result of an assault conviction. Unsurprisingly, the Canadian government refuses to take any responsibility for its failings.

The Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police refused to say whether the shooter possessed a firearms license, while Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety said it’s “inappropriate” to even ask the question.

Is it? Of course not. When your government has deprived you of the right to defend yourself, you should have an equivalent right to question its actions when the bureaucracy fails to keep you or your family safe.

Of course, while the flags were still at half mast, Justin Trudeau was calling for an absolute ban on so-called assault weapons. I wish I could say that I’m surprised, but I’m not. After all, ghouls never let a tragedy go to waste.

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  1. Yepper you slaves can feel free to enjoy your Constitutional Rights. Excludes owning firearms, eating up front in restrarants, water fountains without the word Negro, etc. on it, an education, riding in the front of buses and being beaten and lynched by the military wing of the democrat party known as the KKK.
    Gun Control? It is rooted in racism and genocide. Where else would such a sicko agenda originate?

      • Shocking news, isn’t it?

        You’re preaching to the choir, Debbie… 😉

      • Yes, In history going back to ancient it was foreigners and others who where typically barred from barring having arms.
        As far as North America, it was Bay colony in Massachusetts as well as pother British colonies that banned blacks, and non Christians from bearing arms back in the 1600’s.
        Modern US gun control started as a result of the “Progressive era” models, which also included other efforts like reducing reproductive rates of African Americans and outright statements of racisms.

        In even more modern times during the civil rights ere the data show’s that in the south AND in the north, African American gun ownership was targeted.

        and even today in DC itself, blacks citizens of DC are over 94% of arrests for simple possession without having committed any other crime other than unauthorized possession. African Americans go to jail for victimless gun crimes crimes in DC (and NY, and other heavy gun control jurisdictions) ate many many times the rates of whites.

      • Also look at broad racist statements by Michael Bloomberg who has spent hundred of millions on gun control. Several other large funders of gun control have also shown their racism with incredibly egregious — inaccurate — and offensive statements.

  2. So dumb question does that make the bound book of the DC PD open to FOIA requests? Also, if I was the police union I would want ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with this. What about liability when they sell a gun to someone who shouldn’t have it? What about when they don’t sell it to someone who should? What if they screw up the paperwork? Forget all that did they even get issued an FFL? Hell could they even be an FFL as a government organization? Does the bound book being posessed by them count as an FOPA 86 Violation?

    This one will go to the courts. I’d snub this in a hurry if I was any of the gun rights groups. Force their hand.

    • FOPA only applies to the fed, not states or municipal entities. DC is in kind of a nether world where it is a municipality that answers to the Congress )(on occasion, but not often) but is not precisely a department of the federal government.

    • Andrew it is not only DC that has been doing transfers. DC is not the first law enforcement department in the US to hold an FFL.

      Secondly by DC code nothing about individuals is allowed to be released regarding firearms ownership in any FOI requests. FOI requests are limited to general DC MPD data on gun registrations such as total number of registrants, any crime statistics among the owners (anonymized) etc, eg how many crimes were committed by DC all DC gun registrants,

  3. To paraphrase Lily Tomlin on Laugh In 50 years ago, “We’re the government. We don’t have to care.”

  4. There are other FFLs in DC. They just don’t do transfers for anyone.
    One of the FFLs used to run Hangun Control Inc.

    • True, there are dozens of FFL in DC, mostly curio. Some others owned by film or theater production companies as is typical.

      TTAG ratios of FFLs is way off for that reason. It is counting all classes of FFL in total US, not just class 1, and by that count DC has something like 25 or so last time I looked.

      Also the claim that national average is $25, that is I national average for RETAILER who is making retail profit as well. Basic transfer, in which the FFL did not make a primary profit retailing the gun, is $40. In fact that has been the average for a transfer in Virginia for years.

      If I buy a $500 gun from a gun store here in Virginia they may charge me 0-$30 for their FFL aspect.
      BUT f I have an FFL in Virginia or Maryland, handle a transfer, say from myself to someone I know, where the FLL is not making any retail profit, they will charge $35 to $45, dollars. Not $25.

      The DC (sykes or MPD) premium, FFL charges over normal for that type of transaction is $85, not $100

      If I buy

  5. “Not only are red flag confiscations facially unconstitutional,…”

    Sorry, my trust is currently *zero* that the SCOTUS will rule that way now…

    • Agreeing with that statement.

      SCOTUS is also, always has been, influenced by public opinion.

  6. The reason that the red flag laws were extended has everything to do with the fact that, with the exception of emergency proceedings, the civil trial courts are closed until further order, and the anticipation that chaos will reign when they do finally reopen (which was supposed to be tomorrow, but that ain’t gonna happen). (for that matter, up here any way, there are no criminal trials going on either, and pre-trial stuff is by video conference only.) Does this raise significant due process concerns? It certainly does.

  7. Not all gun stores in California are closed, and Gavin Noisome did not order their closure. Instead he left it up to the county or local officials to make that determination. (Pretty slick way of avoiding responsibility.) Anyway, only a few places, like Los Angeles City and County, and the City of San Jose (one whole shop) have ordered closures. As far as I know, everything north of the Bay Area is open, San Diego is open, and I suspect everything in the Central Valley is open. Business was booming at first, but there has been a massive slow down in the processing of back ground checks by the CA DOJ. Last I heard, it was down to about 16 days to do the 10 day background check, but it had been as long as a month.

  8. Sarah Y. Linda don’t have a boss standing over my shoulder and I make my own hours. The tips below are very informative and anyone currently working from home or planning to in the future could use this website….? http://www.6.gp/a72sV

  9. Background checks on ammunition buyers is a “massive encumbrance” on Californians’ 2nd Amendment right. But I’d add it’s so colossal as to be virtually impossible. Capturing point-of-sale data nationwide for peaceable, lawful citizens is a colossal undertaking that once again, ignores the criminals who don’t ask permission to acquire it. They steal or buy it from a relative or from an underground market.

    The U.S. consumes so much ammunition that quantitative numbers aren’t available and it’s normally measured in dollars. That said, at least 10-15 billion rounds of ammunition are manufactured in the U.S. and about 20,000 tons of ammunition are imported.

    Here’s the thing. The proposal doesn’t include final consumption of the product. As usual, it makes no mention of how those who legally purchase ammunition use it. Generally, they use it to plink, practice, hunt and protect self and family. That leaves us in the dark regarding who, when, where and how criminals use it.

    Democrats seem determined to control freedom for peaceable, lawful citizens and avert their eyes from the criminal element. I wonder why.

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  11. Give all of DC, except for a small Federal enclave with no residential space except for the White House to Maryland. Solves many problems and cuts the DC statehood movement out completely. Would be fairly easy to gerrymander out the core of Federal buildings and the Mall.

    • No way! Maryland is screwed up enough as it is without adding ANOTHER 700,000 democrat voters.

      We’ll never get another republican governor elected again if that happens… not that the current republican is anything to write home about.

    • Why not give it Virginia that is not just now blue, but solidly trending so.

      Of course I have heard so many Virginia gun owners say: “Democrat and Republican elected officials are the same.”
      Really? they are night and day different on gun control, in fact no issue in the US is more partisan aligned among elected officials.

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