NRA Explore
APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Federal District Court: California’s Waiting Period to Acquire a Firearm Violates the Second Amendment

Friday, August 29, 2014

On Monday, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an opinion holding that California’s 10-day waiting period for nearly all firearm sales violates the Second Amendment, at least as applied to certain individuals.  The opinion, written by Judge Anthony W. Ishii, generally found California’s justifications for the waiting period insufficient to overcome the burden the waiting period placed on Californians’ right to keep and bear arms.

The court first concluded that the waiting period created a burden on the Second Amendment. Specifically, it found the state failed to put forth any historical evidence showing that the waiting period should fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment or was one of the types of longstanding and presumptively lawful regulations identified by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.  Because the court determined that the waiting period burdened the Second Amendment, the state was required to show a “reasonable fit” between the supposed state interest furthered by the law, public safety, and the state’s rationale for how the waiting period furthered that interest. 

The state attempted to justify the burden created by the waiting period with three separate arguments.  First, that the waiting period provided time for the California Department of Justice to conduct a background check on the prospective purchaser.  Second, that the waiting period created a “cooling off period” that prevented impulsive acts of violence.  Third, that the waiting period helped to deter “straw purchases” by giving law enforcement sufficient time to investigate the purchaser. 

The plaintiffs argued that these justifications were insufficient to meet the “reasonable fit” requirement as to three classes of individuals:  those who already own a firearm as indicated by California’s Automated Firearms System, holders of concealed carry permits, and holders of a Certificate of Eligibility.  Notably, individuals in each of these classes have already undone extensive background checks and, in most cases, already own one or more firearms.  

The court analyzed the justifications for each class separately, but the court’s rationale in rejecting each justification was generally the same for each separate class.  In rejecting the background check justification, the court found that in many cases background checks are completed anywhere from a few hours to one day and in the vast majority of cases the check was completed in fewer than 10 days, so the background check provided no justification for the waiting period beyond the actual time needed to complete the check on a case-by-case basis.   The court was not persuaded by the “cooling off period” justification because individuals in each of the three classes already owned a firearm or had undergone a thorough background investigation that made it extremely unlikely that these individuals would carry out an impulsive violent crime.  As to the “straw purchase” justification, the court found that there was no evidence that the legislature had intended the waiting period to serve as a deterrent to straw purchases or that the waiting period actually did deter straw purchases.

Even if the decision is not appealed, it will not take effect for at least 180 days because of a stay that was granted to give California sufficient time to alter its firearm acquisition procedures to comply with the court’s holding.  While the holding is technically limited to the three classes of individuals raised by the plaintiffs, the court’s discussion of the state’s justifications, or lack thereof, for the waiting period exposes waiting period laws for what they truly are:  an attempt to limit firearm ownership through burdensome regulation.

TRENDING NOW
California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Monday, September 26, 2016

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Today, Governor Brown made his decision on the final firearm-related bills of the 2016 legislative session that made it to his desk.   Governor Brown vetoed two anti-gun bills, AB 450 and SB 1332, and signed ...

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

Show your support for NRA and the Second Amendment this election cycle by purchasing an NRA yard sign.  With everything that is at stake this year, including the Presidency, the balance of the U.S. Senate ...

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, was in New York City recently on an official visit. Commenting on the bombs that exploded while he was in town, he opined that such attacks are now simply ...

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

News  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

This feature appears in the October ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association. “Why can’t everyone just have their DNA on file? Then it would ...

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

With the presidential race tighter than ever as it heads into its final stretch, panicked Hillary Clinton supporters are desperate to find a way to discredit, not just Donald Trump, but anyone who would dare ...

California: Referendum Update

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

California: Referendum Update

On behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA), we would like to thank all of the volunteers and individuals who participated in the Veto Gunmageddon ballot referendum qualification effort.  Despite the tremendous efforts of all involved, ...

Montana: Bloomberg Targeting Missoula – Your Action Needed NOW!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Montana: Bloomberg Targeting Missoula – Your Action Needed NOW!

On Monday, September 26, the Missoula City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance that would only create a burden for law-abiding citizens and may turn them into criminals if they unknowingly violate the ordinance.

Get the Official NRA-ILA App for an Exclusive NRA Store Discount!

Take Action  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Get the Official NRA-ILA App for an Exclusive NRA Store Discount!

For a limited time only, the official NRA Store is offering a special deal to anyone who downloads the NRA-ILA App! Once the app is installed on your smartphone, you’ll receive a discount code that you can ...

Pennsylvania: Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation will go to the House Floor Next Week!

Hunting  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pennsylvania: Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation will go to the House Floor Next Week!

Next week, and important pro-hunting reform bill, Senate Bill 737, may be considered in the House of Representatives.  Please call your state Representative and urge them to vote in favor of Senate Bill 737!

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

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.