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California: Lawsuit Filed Against Recently Enacted “Assault Weapon” Regulations

Thursday, September 7, 2017

California: Lawsuit Filed Against Recently Enacted “Assault Weapon” Regulations

On September 7, attorneys for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA), filed the third in a series of planned lawsuits that challenge California’s recently enacted anti-gun restrictions collectively known as “gunmageddon” among gun owners. 

This latest lawsuit, titled Villanueva v. Becerra, challenges the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recently enacted “assault weapon” regulations.  These regulations were pushed through to finalize the implementation of new laws passed in 2016 (AB 1135 and SB 880) banning the sale, transfer, and possession of certain rifles and pistols equipped with magazine locking devices, typically known as “bullet buttons.”  These firearms were previously not considered “assault weapons,” but must now be registered as such with DOJ.  California gun owners own thousands—potentially hundreds of thousands—of such firearms. 

Prior to their enactment, the NRA and CRPA attorneys repeatedly warned DOJ and the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) of the many flaws with the regulations, and that by enacting them without any input from the public, DOJ would be violating California’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA) - which requires DOJ to first obtain and consider public input on any proposed regulation.  Unsurprisingly, DOJ ignored those warnings, and instead pushed their regulations through without seeking or accepting any public input. 

There is a narrow exception in the law that allows DOJ to bypass the APA for regulations that set up the “assault weapon” registration process, but DOJ’s regulations go far beyond what is necessary for the registration of newly classified “assault weapons.”  In addition to creating over 40 new definitions, the regulations revise existing “assault weapon” regulations, require excessive personal information as a condition of registration (including where and how the firearm was acquired and a requirement to provide DOJ with photographs of the firearm), require home-built firearms first obtain a DOJ-approved serial number as a condition of registration, expand the definition of an “assault weapon” to certain shotguns, and restrict the modification or reconfiguration of a firearm after it is registered. 

The NRA and CRPA attorneys filed the Villanueva lawsuit in Fresno Superior Court, challenging the regulations as violating the APA on the grounds that the regulations lack appropriate legislative authority and otherwise conflict with existing state laws. 

To learn more about Villanueva, as well as the other lawsuits challenging the “Gunmageddon” laws, subscribe to NRA and CRPA email alerts, and visit the NRA and CRPA’s websites at www.standandfightcalifornia.com and www.crpa.org. If you are interested in being a plaintiff in a lawsuit like Villanueva, including the upcoming lawsuit challenging California’s recently enacted ammunition sales restrictions, please email NRA and CRPA attorneys at potentialplaintiffs@michellawyers.com

Please continue to check your inbox and the California Stand and Fight webpage for updates on issues impacting your Second Amendment rights and hunting heritage in California. 

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