Rob Bonta
California Attorney General Rob Bonta (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
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From the Firearms Policy Coalition

Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced a victory in its Campos v. Bonta lawsuit, which challenged policies and practices of California Attorney General Rob Bonta and his Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Firearms that delayed firearm transactions beyond the statutory 10-day waiting period absent a legal basis. The order can be viewed at FPCLegal.org.

“Demand for firearms surged in 2020 when California citizens saw the rule of law crumbling around them.  The California DOJ announced it was too busy to process background checks within 10 days, so it was going to start interpreting the law to give it 30 days.  We brought this case to shine a light on the DOJ’s unlawful practice, and we are pleased the court has ordered DOJ to comply with the law,” stated Brad Benbrook, FPC’s counsel in the litigation.

When a person buys, transfers, or is loaned a firearm in California, they are generally required by law to wait 10 days after the DOJ receives the transfer application before taking possession of the firearm. Likewise, the firearms dealer cannot allow the person to take possession of the firearm before the end of the waiting period. But as soon as that 10-day period is over, California law says one of three things must happen:

  1. The dealer can deliver the firearm;
  2. The application is denied by DOJ; or,
  3. The transfer has been delayed for one of three specified, expressly enumerated causes, and the background check and waiting period can be extended up to a total of 30 days. This additional delay to the background check can only be used by the State under a limited set of circumstances. (Cal. Penal Code § 28220(f)(1).)

In order for the DOJ to delay a transfer to conduct additional research, it must have some substantial information from the background check conducted within the first 10 days that, because of something discovered in their records that meets at least one of the three statutorily established criteria. Despite all of this, in 2020, DOJ established a policy and practice where it would extend the 10-day waiting period to 30 days whenever the background check was not complete. FPC filed the Campos lawsuit in response.

“A plain reading of the statute’s language shows that the Legislature added the three specific circumstances for which the Department may delay releasing firearms when background checks are not completed,” wrote San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer in his Order. “Thus, contrary to respondents’ argument, these specified situations do not show the Legislature intended to provide the Department authority to delay release for any reason that background checks are not completed. Had the Legislature wished to create a broader allowance for a 30-day delay whenever the DOJ determined additional time is needed, it could have done so. It did not.”

On July 22, 2022, the Court granted FPC’s petition for writ of mandamus and ordered the DOJ to stop enforcing the delay policy and practice. The Court’s judgment reiterates that the DOJ must allow for delivery of firearms after conclusion of the 10-day waiting period unless it has identified one of the three bases for delay or already determined that the purchaser is ineligible.

The plaintiffs/petitioners were represented by Brad Benbrook and Steve Duvernay of the Benbrook Law Group, who have previously successfully represented FPC and individual gun owners in other legal cases.

 

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah I saw this on a couple Youtube channels. Slow walk scum. Reminds me of a certain Midwestern state that rhymes with hellannoy…

  2. Now if someone would challenge Oregon’s rule that the State Police have to approve all sales and can take as long as they feel like — there are people here who have been waiting for over a year for their legal property, despite federal law about the three days maximum wait. So right now someone in Oregon could buy a pistol from guns.com and wouldn’t be able to take possession until after two Christmases have gone by.

    • “Now if someone would challenge Oregon’s rule that the State Police have to approve all sales and can take as long as they feel like…”

      Contact your 2A firearm rights organizations out there and let them know this has to happen.

      Offer to start the ball rolling by donating to their organizations. Offer to help put the word out.

      Be proactive rather than just reactive when it comes to your 2A rights…

    • It was. The suit failed, notwithstanding that 30% of BCGs are completed nearly instantaneously and over 80% are completed in less than 10 days (as I recall).

      • Do you think waiting periods in general will be seen as acceptably-constitutional by the High court?

  3. Given that three-day NICS has been workable since 1994 (when databases were less comprehensive, and telecommunications tech orders of magnitude less capable) there should be no conceivable circumstances where CA gets to extend past ten.

    • California does not rely solely on the NCIS database (which it searches on its own), but considers separate state databases as well.

      • My point wasn’t about what they choose to do, but rather about the ample precedent disproving any claim as to what they can’t do.

  4. C’mon, everybody! Grab yer mugs, swing ’em like pirates, and sing with me!

    99 gun control laws on the wall,
    99 gun control laws…
    Ya knock one down,
    Right there on the ground,
    98 gun control laws on the wall…

    (uh, miss…can I get a refill?…there are a lot of laws left to knock down :))

    • “Now, for the appeals, years in the making.”

      Sounds like a good reason for a law to to be on a fast track to the head of the line if it deals with constitutional rights…

      • “Sounds like a good reason for a law to to be on a fast track to the head of the line if it deals with constitutional rights…”

        Wonder if that is even possible?

  5. When COVID happened, the govt on the west coast decided it could do what it wanted because they had emergency control. They knew if they got challenged there would be no consequence other than having to comply with the law AFTER a judge says they do. They started releasing criminals to cause more street level chaos to hid what they were doing at the state level. Do what you need to do to be safe. You can only fight the system if you are still alive to do so.

  6. The other lawsuit should be civil rights violations of those that were denied their purchases illegally.

  7. They powers that be oughta just sit back and be happy with the 4473 firearms registration forms people are filling out for them everyday…

  8. The problem is that states do this kind of thing knowing that they will lose in court, but that it will take so long that they got what they wanted anyway. There needs to be a real consequence for having done this. Someone needs to go to jail, or the people affected should get a large enough monetary award that the state would really feel it.

  9. “Had the Legislature wished to create a broader allowance for a 30-day delay whenever the DOJ determined additional time is needed, it could have done so. It did not.”

    And I’m betting that now, it will. In CA? Foregone conclusion.

    Good work by the FPC lawyers, but I’m wondering if this ruling will have any affect. Betting it’s not over yet. Who is going to see that it’s enforced? Newsom? C’mon…

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