What do you call it when a new law requires you to register some of your firearms, but the state fails to provide a working system to do that? You call it “California government.”
Last year, a new law went into effect, requiring Golden State gun owners with bullet button “assault weapons” to register them with the state. Because “gun safety” or something.
Anyway, gun owners had to complete the registration process by July 1, 2018. There was only one problem. The registration web site that the state built for gun owners was apparently built by the same kind of galaxy brains who were the architects of the ObamaCare web site. In other words, it didn’t work.
The programming failures resulted in a number of gun owners who were unable to comply with the registration requirement before the deadline. As a result, a lawsuit was filed over the system failures against California Attorney General Xavier Becerra by a group of gun rights org including the Second Amendment Foundation, Calguns, The Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation.
Becerra moved to dismiss the lawsuit, because working in government means never having to say you’re sorry…or admit that you’re utterly incompetent. But today, a US District Judge ruled that the lawsuit can go forward.
Here’s the Second Amendment Foundation’s press release announcing the good news . . .
BELLEVUE, WA – A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the California Department of Justice and Attorney General Xavier Becerra over the state’s failure and refusal to establish a properly functioning internet-based firearms registration system that was mandated by law.
U.S. District Judge Morrison England, Jr., a George Bush appointee, denied the motion, noting in his 10-page ruling that, “the Supreme Court specifically recognized that a violation of procedural due process occurs when ‘it is the state system itself that destroys a complainant’s property interest, by operation of law,’ whether the state’s action “is taken through negligence, maliciousness or otherwise.”
“We said at the start of this legal action and we still maintain that the state’s system was like a bad version of ‘Catch-22’,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The government required registration by a certain deadline, but the online registration failed and people couldn’t register. It’s simply not acceptable when the government mandates something and then doesn’t provide the tools for the public to comply, making them criminally liable and subject to firearms confiscation.”
Judge England noted in his ruling, “While Defendants appear to blame the individual Plaintiffs for waiting until the last minute to attempt to register their firearms (seven waited until the last two days of the online registration period), the fact that Defendants’ website used a dramatic ‘countdown clock’ showing the number of weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds elapsing until the deadline at least arguably supported a belief that registrations could be both processed and accepted ‘until literally the last second of the registration period.’ Particularly when coupled with the documented systemic failures outlined above, the countdown clock also supports an inference of deliberate indifference.
SAF is joined in the case by the Calguns Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Madison Society Foundation and seven individual plaintiffs.
“Attorney General Becerra and his DOJ had one job to do: Provide a functional system for gun owners to use in registering their eligible firearms,” added Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs. “But instead of doing their jobs, they created a huge new mess for law enforcement and put innocent people and lawfully-owned property at serious risk.”
“The state of California couldn’t even build a working system to respect gun owners’ rights,” noted Calguns Foundation Chairman Gene Hoffman.
The case, known as Sharp v. Becerra was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
The 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.