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California: Faced with NRA/CRPA Foundation Lawsuit, Berkley Repeals Ban on Possession of Certain Semi-Automatic Rifles

Friday, May 7, 2010

In response to a pre-litigation demand letter sent by lawyers for the NRA and CRPA Foundation, on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to repeal that city's ban on the possession of certain semiautomatic rifles, which had remained “on the books” as Municipal Code Section 13.47 despite being obviously preempted by state law.

The repeal is the culmination of discussions between attorneys for the NRA and CRPA and the Berkeley City Attorney’s office.  The City of Berkeley initially resisted all requests by the NRA and CRPA to repeal this ordinance.  But the City Attorney’s report to the City Council makes clear that the motivation to finally repeal the ordinance was the threat of litigation from NRA/CRPA.   

One person objected to the repealing of the ordinance during public comment, but the City Attorney quickly corrected him that, as explained by the NRA/CRPA letter, this is a settled legal matter for which the City of Berkeley has no recourse.  The City Attorney conceded the preemptive effect of the Fiscal v. City and County of San Francisco, 158 Cal.App.4th 895 (2008) case, and that a court would rule in NRA/CRPA’s favor in a lawsuit in this matter.

This is a victory not only for gun owners who live in or pass through the City of Berkeley and who feared prosecution under this ordinance. The repeal confirms that, contrary to the gun ban lobby’s claims, there are limits to what restrictions cities can place on firearms, and that Fiscal has preemptive effect throughout California. The repeal demand letter and staff report can be read at ww.calgunlaws.com.

The repeal efforts were funded by the NRA / CRPAF Legal Action project. To contribute to the NRA / CRPAF Legal Action Project (LAP) and support Second Amendment cases that directly benefit California gun owners, visit www.crpafoundation.org.  LAP is a joint venture between the Nation Rifle Association (NRA) and the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) to advance the rights of firearms owners in California. Through LAP, NRA/CRPA attorneys fight against ill-conceived gun control laws and ordinances, and educate state and local officials about the programs at their disposal that are effective in reducing accidents and violence without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.           

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.