On April 1, 2012, the National Rifle Association (NRA) through their attorneys at Michel & Associates, weighed in on the state firearms preemption case of Calguns Foundation, Inc. v. County of San Mateo. This case is now before the California Court of Appeal. If the appellate court upholds the trial court’s ruling against the plaintiffs, this case could set bad precedent for future cases challenging local regulation of firearm possession on legal preemption grounds.
This Calguns Foundation (CGF) case challenges a San Mateo County ordinance that bans the possession of firearms in county parks and recreation areas, without providing an exception for people licensed to carry handguns in public. Specifically, this lawsuit alleges that Government Code section 53071, as interpreted in the favorable opinion achieved by the NRA in Fiscal v. City and County of San Francisco, "preempts" local ordinances and prevents local governments from passing ordinances that interfere with the authority granted by state-issued licenses authorizing the carrying of handguns in public ("carry licenses").
The NRA’s amicus curiae ("friend-of-the-court") brief presents the court with two preemption arguments that were not raised by the parties, through which the court should find that the county ordinance is preempted and void. The NRA brief argues primarily that because this ordinance prohibits holders of carry licenses from carrying a firearm pursuant to their valid, state-issued-and-regulated license while in certain areas (i.e. parks), it contradicts with state law and so is preempted.
The NRA brief also argues that the state implicitly occupies the entire legal field of regulating carry licensing and regulation, to the exclusion of further local regulation. CGF conceded the "implied preemption" argument in its briefs. The NRA’s brief seeks to resurrect that valid preemption argument.
In 2008, the NRA and attorneys at Michel & Associates, brought a firearms preemption challenge to San Francisco’s Proposition H, which banned handgun possession entirely and banned the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearms and ammunition within San Francisco. That court victory in the Fiscal case established valuable legal precedent and set the stage for other preemption lawsuits. The Fiscal decision was relied on heavily by CGF’s attorneys in their briefs.
Copies of the court filings in Calguns Foundation, Inc. v. County of San Mateo can be viewed here.
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