This report provides an overview of just some of the efforts the National Rifle Association of America and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., are taking to protect the rights of California gun owners. Although litigation plays an extremely important role in the fight for the right to keep and bear arms, NRA and CRPA are heavily involved in many other tremendous and equally important endeavors throughout California and across the nation.
As has been and always will be the case, NRA and CRPA invest enormous amounts of resources to protect the Second Amendment at all levels of California’s government, including all 58 counties, all 482 municipalities, and all state and local agencies tasked with enforcing the myriad of complex and ever expanding gun laws.
Firearms Litigation Report
The litigation report provides a brief overview and update on NRA and CRPA’s recent litigation efforts in California, including amicus and consulting support in other firearm related cases.
Local Ordinance Project Report
The Local Ordinance Project (“LOP”) is a joint venture between the NRA and CRPA to research and actively monitor all of California’s local jurisdictions to oppose any proposed ordinance, law, or policy that threatens Second Amendment Rights. LOP efforts include developing and working with a network of professionals, citizens, local government officials, and law enforcement professionals to effectively oppose local threats to California gun owners.
Opposition campaigns typically include the preparation of opposition or pre-litigation demand letters, grassroots coordination, public information campaigns, and, in some cases, appearances at city council hearings. In many instances, these efforts have prompted local governments to vote down proposals or pull them from consideration. LOP efforts also serve as the foundation for NRA and CRPA litigation efforts against municipalities that enact anti-gun legislation.
Regulatory Matters Report
NRA and CRPA are also heavily invested in firearm law enforcement issues through their Regulatory Counsel efforts, which monitors the California DOJ and local law enforcement's interpretations of California firearm laws on a daily basis.
Ongoing efforts include drafting regulatory comment letters, providing legal support to NRA and CRPA lobbyists, drafting NRA and CRPA member alerts, and providing advice to NRA and CRPA members. Regulatory Counsel also collaborates with overlapping litigation, legislative, and regulatory matters to effectively oppose improper actions and incorrect interpretations of California law by state and local agencies.
Regulatory Counsel is responsible for many of the recently published webinars available on the CRPA’s website which provide gun owners with a comprehensive analysis of recently enacted legislation and the recently proposed “assault weapon” regulations from the California DOJ.
Hunting Matters Report
Closely related to Regulatory Counsel are NRA and CRPA’s efforts to monitor and respond to issues impacting hunters throughout California. These efforts include developing strategies and taking action when necessary before the Legislature, the Fish & Game Commission, local municipalities, and other various regulatory agencies.
Hunting Regulatory efforts are also dedicated to pushing back against rabidly anti-hunting forces such as the United States Humane Society, and to improve policies impacting hunters in California to effectively promote and defend the right to hunt in California.
Range Matters Report
Last but not least, NRA and CRPA continually monitor environmental, land use, and design and safety issues that heavily affect shooting ranges and areas in California and throughout the nation.
NRA and CRPA’s range assistance efforts include regular range evaluations and meeting with Club Boards to strategize and assist with coordination of defense campaigns against “not in my backyard” efforts from environmental non-governmental organizations, state and federal agencies, and municipal governments.
Click on the case name below to reveal more information about the case status and what's next.
California and 9th Circuit Litigation Matters
Rupp v. Becerra: Challenge to California’s “assault weapon” restrictions
Case Status: The case was filed on April 24, 2017, in response to Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135, and challenges California’s entire “assault weapon” regulatory scheme as a violation of the Second Amendment, due process clause, and takings clause of the United States Constitution.
What's Next: Plaintiffs will soon conduct discovery and will file a motion for summary judgment.
Duncan v. Becerra: Challenge to California's ban on standard capacity magazines
Case Status: The case was filed on May 17, 2017, in response to Senate Bill 1446 and Proposition 63, and challenges all of California’s restrictions against standard capacity magazines as a violation of the Second Amendment, due process clause, and takings clause of the United States Constitution.
What's Next: Plaintiffs have filed a motion to suspend enforcement of California’s new ban against “possession” of standard capacity magazines while the case is pending, which is set to take effect on July 1, 2017.
Flanagan v. Becerra: Challenge to California and Los Angeles' Firearm Carry Restrictions Prohibitting Both Open and Concealed Carry
(Formerly Flanagan v. Harris)
Case Status: The case was filed on August 17, 2016 as a direct response to Peruta. The suit seeks to force the court to decide whether or not it is willing to uphold a complete prohibition on the right of law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm for self-defense. On February 23, 2017, the district court dismissed plaintiff’s claims challenging California’s concealed carry restrictions in light of Peruta.
What's Next: The challenge to California’s ban on the open carry of firearms will now proceed to be litigated in the district court. Regardless of the outcome, the challenge to California’s concealed carry restrictions in light of California’s total ban on open carry have been preserved for appeal.
Additional Upcoming Challenges to "Gunmageddon"
Case Status: CRPA and NRA attorneys are preparing multiple challenges to the new laws that were passed in 2016 that improperly punish law-abiding gun owners.
CRPA and NRA attorneys also submitted a pre-litigation demand letter to the City of Los Angeles demanding that it repeal its ultra-compact firearms in September 21, 2016.
What's Next: Rupp and Duncan have already been filed in response to the “Gunmageddon” bills and Prop 63. Additional lawsuits will soon be filed.
The City of Los Angeles is considering whether it will repeal its ultra-compact firearms ordinance, otherwise it will face further litigation in 2017.
Peruta v. California: Challenge to "good cause" requirement for CCWs
(formerly Peruta v. San Diego)
Case Status: In June 2016, a divided 11-judge “en banc” panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-4 in favor of the County, holding that the government’s denial of the only means of carrying a firearm under state law does not implicate the Second Amendment. The decision reverses an earlier three-judge panel decision of the 9th circuit and now stands in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller.
Bauer v. Becerra: Challenge to DOJ's excessive DROS fees that generated a massive surplus
(formerly Bauer v. Harris)
Case Status: In March 2015, the district court issued an opinion upholding California’s use of DROS fees to fund APPS and other law enforcement activities. On June 1, 2017, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court opinion.
What's Next: Plaintiffs now have the option of submitting a petition for review to the United States Supreme Court or requesting an “en banc” review by a larger panel of the 9th Circuit.
Gentry v. Becerra: Challenge to DOJ's Use of DROS surplus to fund APPS
(formerly Gentry v. Harris)
Case Status: Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint alleging that the DROS fee is an invalid property tax. The case is currently in the discovery process.
What's Next: The case is expected to go to trial in 2017.
Belemjian v. Becerra: Challenge to CA DOJ's underground regulations regarding the FSC Program
(formerly Belemjian v. Harris)
Case Status: This case forced DOJ to comply with the process for enacting regulations, which it sought to avoid when implementing the FSC program in February 2015. Plaintiffs appealed the lower court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ request for attorneys’ fees.
What's Next: Briefing concerning attorney’s fees has been completed. Oral arguments are expected to take place in late 2017.
Parker v. California: Vagueness challenge to AB 962's "handgun ammunition" sales registration requirement and mail order ban
Case Status: In December 2016, as a result of Prop 63, the California Supreme Court dismissed its review of a Court of Appeals’ opinion upholding the trial court’s order striking down AB 962. The Court of Appeals’ decision is now the final opinion in the case and Plaintiffs are seeking their attorneys’ fees against the State.
What's Next: Plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys’ fees will be heard in 2017. Separate litigation is being prepared to challenge the ammunition restrictions in Proposition 63.
Fyock v. Sunnyvale: 10+ Round Magazine Possession Ban
Case Status: The passage of SB 1446 and Proposition 63 prohibiting the possession of 10+ round magazines statewide now preempts the local ordinance and mooted the case. The case was dismissed without prejudice in December 2016.
What's Next: Duncan has been filed to challenge the State’s 10+ round magazine ban. If that litigation is successful, this case will be refiled against Sunnyvale.
Bosenko v. City of Los Angeles: Preemption challenge to LA ordinance banning possession of 10+ round magazines
Case Status: The City is currently in the process of repealing its ordinance which is now preempted by state law.
What's Next: Once the City repeals its ordinance, the case will be dismissed.
California and 9th Circuit Amicus and Consulting Support
Teixeira v. Alameda County: FFL Zoning Restrictions
In December 2016, the 9th Circuit ordered the case to be reheard by an 11-judge “en banc” panel. NRA and CRPA attorneys filed an amicus brief on January 31, 2017. Oral arguments were held on March 22, 2017.
Awaiting a decision from the 11-judge “en banc” panel of the 9th Circuit.
In December 2016, the 9th Circuit issued its decision upholding the 10-day wait as applied to current gun owners. Chief Judge Sydney Thomas went even further and stated that the restriction is “presumptively lawful” and therefore falls “outside the scope of the Second Amendment.” Plaintiffs petitioned the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case, but that petition was denied on April 4, 2017.
Plaintiffs now have the option submitting a petition for review to the United States Supreme Court.
Tracy Rifle & Pistol v. Becerra: 1st Amendment challenge to handgun ad prohibition
In July 2015, the district court denied a request to prohibit enforcement while the case proceeds. That decision was appealed, and in February 2016 the 9th Circuit upheld the lower court’s order within two weeks of oral arguments. Cross-motions for summary judgment have been submitted in the district court.
On December 1, the California Court of Appeals issued a ruling in favor of NSSF, allowing the lawsuit to proceed in the lower court. But on March 22, 2017, the California Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case following a petition from the State of California.
Briefing in the California Supreme Court is underway.
National Cases with California Interest
Kolbe v. Hogan: Challenges Maryland's ban on “assault weapons” and 10+ round magazines
On May 17, 2016, the Court granted the Plaintiffs’ request for an order blocking enforcement of the “good reason” requirement.The government appealed the decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Court issued a stay of the lower court’s order that prohibited D.C. from enforcing its “good reason” requirement.
Oral arguments in the case were held on September 20, 2016, along with Wrenn v. District of Columbia. A decision from the D.C. Circuit can be expected anywhere in the next 3-9 months.
Local Ordinance Project Report
Statewide Local Elections
LOP works hard to inform California gun owners of political candidate's voting records on Second Amendment Issues.
Continually develop and maintain detailed voting histories of local politicians, including whether they proposed or supported any firearm-related legislation.
In July 2016, the City Council opened discussion on a number of anti-gun proposals, including a duty to report the theft or loss of a firearm, a prohibition on the possession of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and a requirement that all ammunition sales be recorded.
Alerted members to attend City Council meetings and voice opposition. Submitted two opposition letters, one in July and one in September, warning of the ordinance’s serious legal problems, including state preemption issues. Published C.D. Michel editorial discussing problems with proposal. Sought public records of communications between Council members and anti-gun groups.
The City agreed to remove the magazine and ammunition restrictions from the proposal. But despite the overwhelming number of residents who spoke against the proposal, the Council voted 3-2 in favor of enacting the remaining provisions.
LA City Anti-Gun Efforts Targeting Law-Abiding Gun Dealers
In June 2016, the City Council instructed the LAPD to work with the anti-gun organization “Crime Gun Solutions” to study and identify so-called “bad apple” gun dealers located in the City of Los Angeles.
In a joint-effort with FFLGuard, prepared and submitted a letter to all FFLs located within the City warning them of the Council’s action.
The City has not prosecuted a single dealer as a result of its efforts targeting so-called "bad apple" gun dealers.
In October 2016, Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas sought approval from the County Board of Supervisors to impose a mandatory psychological test for all CCW applicants and raise the associated fee from $150 to $550.
Submitted opposition letter warning of the proposal’s serious legal problems, such as how state law capped the psychological testing fee at $150.
In November 2016, the County Board of Supervisors pulled the proposal from consideration and stated it has no plans for re-introduction at this time.
In September 2016, Councilmembers Ash Kalra and Raul Peralez introduced an anti-gun package for discussion and referral to the City Council.
Alerted members to attend Rules and Open Government Committee meetings during early stages of proposal.
As a result of LOP and other local pro-gun efforts, the City has dropped most of the proposed provisions, but will still pursue a mandatory locked-storage ordinance. A draft ordinance is expected to be introduced to the City Council in the coming weeks.
At the request of several anti-gun residents, the Del Mar Fairgrounds Board of Directors held an open discussion in November 2016 regarding the use of the grounds by gun shows.
Alerted members to attend meeting and voice support for gun shows. Submitted letter of comment informing Board members of all of the rules and requirements gun show operators are required to adhere to in the State of California.
Following the public discussion, the Board did not take any action and continues to allow the use of the grounds by gun shows.
Many Orange County residents to this day are still confused as to the specific requirements for obtaining a CCW in Orange County.
Prepared a comprehensive guide discussing the entire application process for obtaining a CCW in Orange County, including what is required to satisfy the Sheriff’s “good cause” policy.
NRA and CRPA are working hard to bring "shall-issue" to California. In the meantime, CRPA will continue to provide gun owners with helpful guides on how they can apply for a CCW in their respective county of residence.
Kern County CCW on School Grounds
Following the enactment of Senate Bill 707, which restricted CCW holders from carrying firearms on school grounds, the Kern County High School Board sought to allow teachers and staff to carry firearms at school.
Alerted members to attend the Public Safety Commission meeting. Submitted opposition letter informing the Commission of the proposal's serious legal problems not adequately discussed in staff reports.
A revised ordinance regarding security requirements for firearm dealers is expected to come before the Public Safety Commission in July.
The City Council discussed NRA and CRPA’s opposition prior to making its decision, but ultimately voted 6-1 in favor of the ordinance.
West Covina Chief of Police
The City is currently in the process of selecting a new Chief of Police. The current Chief, David Faulkner, refused to honor the City Council’s resolution defining “good cause” for a CCW permit.
Alerted members to attend a special meeting soliciting input from residents and businesses regarding the recruitment of a new Chief of Police.
A decision by the City has not yet been made.
Statewide Public Record Requests
NRA and CRPA regularly seek and obtain public records in connection with any anti-gun efforts in California. Such efforts include proposed anti-gun ordinances, gun buyback programs, and other anti-gun regulatory enforcement issues.
Responses to these requests often yield valuable results, such as which members of a local government entity are working with anti-gun groups, sources of funding, and other important information.
Firearms Regulatory Matters Report
Public Record Requests
Description: NRA and CRPA regularly seek and obtain public records from CA DOJ and local law enforcement relating to internal agency policies and interpretations of CA firearm laws.
Regulatory Counsel Response: Recently, responses to these requests provided key financial analysis reports from CA DOJ and other state agencies regarding proposed firearm legislation. These reports were subsequently used in drafting legislative opposition letters and veto requests to the governor.
Current Status: Ongoing.
New California Gun Laws
Description: Given California's continually evolving and complex firearm laws, many gun owners, manufacturers, and dealers are often left wondering how best to avoid being prosecuted for otherwise unintentional violations that can result in serious consequences.
Regulatory Counsel Response: NRA and CRPA regularly work to provide Californians with up-to-date information on California laws, regulations, and policies regarding firearms to help gun owners avoid prosecution and retain their right to keep and bear arms.
Current Status: Ongoing. In connection with these efforts, NRA and CRPA produced several webinars on a variety of topics, including the loaning of firearms, the new “assault weapon” laws, the new ammunition sales laws, and the recently proposed “assault weapon” regulations.
Assistance for California Members
Description: NRA and CPRA continually assist members with questions concerning California firearm laws.
Regulatory Counsel Response: NRA and CRPA have a variety of resources available to members, including the ability to refer individuals to attorneys specializing in firearm laws.
Current Status: Ongoing.
2016 California Firearms Laws
Description: California recently adopted several new firearm laws. These laws have caused confusion amongst the public, firearm dealers, and manufacturers.
Regulatory Response: NRA and CRPA have published several webinars that provide gun owners with detailed information on each of these new laws.
Current Status: Recordings of the webinars are freely available on CRPA's website.
Gun Violence Restraining Orders
Description: Since January 2016, a new law allows law enforcement or immediate family members to seek a “gun violence restraining order” against another.
Regulatory Counsel Response: NRA and CRPA published a comprehensive guide for judges, prosecutors, attorneys, police, and gun owners explaining all aspects of the new law.
Current Status: The published guide is available on the CRPA's website.
CCW in School Zone
Description: As a result of SB 707, which was signed into law in 2015 and became effect on January 1, 2016, CCW holders may no longer carry their firearm on school grounds.
Regulatory Counsel Response: To assist CCW holders understand the new restrictions, NRA and CRPA published a comprehensive guide that details the various ways in which a person may lawfully carry a firearm on school grounds.
Current Status: The published guide is available on CRPA's website. Recently, this guide has been provided to school administrators who are considering allowing individuals to carry firearms on their school's campus free of charge.
CA DOJ's Proposed "Large-Capacity" Magazine Regulations
Description: In December 2016, CA DOJ proposed a series of “emergency” regulations relating to magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Regulatory Counsel Response: NRA and CRPA alerted members to voice their opposition and submit comments, and prepared a comprehensive analysis of the proposed regulations’ effects. NRA and CRPA also submitted a letter of opposition to the Office of Administrative Law.
Current Status: On December 29, 2016, CA DOJ voluntarily withdrew its proposal, but could re-introduce the regulations for consideration at any time.
CA DOJ's "Bullet-Button Assault Weapon" Regulations December 2016
Description: In December 2016, CA DOJ submitted its anticipated regulations regarding the procedures for registering newly classified “assault weapons” under Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135.
Regulatory Counsel Status: NRA and CRPA alerted members to the proposal, submitted a pre-litigation demand letter to DOJ and an opposition letter to Office of Administrative Law, and produced a webinar outlining the effects of the proposal should it become law.
Current Status: These regulations were withdrawn before they went into effect.
CA DOJ's "Bullet-Button Assault Weapon" Regulations May 2017
Description: After withdrawing the December 2016 regulations in February 2017, CA DOJ resubmitted the regulations for “assault weapons” in May 2017.
Regulatory Counsel Response: NRA and CRPA again alerted members to the proposed regulations, and is currently drafting a pre-litigation demand letter. NRA and CRPA also produced a webinar outlining the new changes and requirements for registration.
Current Status: California’s Office of Administrative Law is currently reviewing the regulations.
Implementation of Prop 63
Description: Beginning January 1, 2018, courts will require those convicted of firearm prohibiting offenses to turn in/transfer firearms pursuant to Prop 63.
Regulatory Counsel Response: To better inform the courts and members of the public regarding this process, and in an effort to avoid confusion and inadvertent violations, NRA and CRPA prepared and submitted a letter of comment to the Judicial Council of California.
Current Status: NRA and CRPA are continuing to monitor the implementation of Prop 63 and will submit further letters of comment if needed.
Assistance to Gun Clubs and Youth Groups
Description: California law substantially regulates and restricts the acquisition, transfer, and loan of firearms. Firearm clubs and youth groups are particularly affected by these restrictions
Regulatory Counsel Response: NRA and CRPA are currently assisting these groups navigate CA’s requirements and advising how best to avoid unintentional violations of CA law.
Current Status: Ongoing.
California’s Firearm Violence Research Center
Description: California granted $5 million to create the “California Firearm Violence Research Center.” The individual chosen to head this center is a known anti-Second Amendment advocate.
Regulatory Counsel Response: NRA and CRPA are continuing to monitor the center’s activities to ensure taxpayer money is not wasted on biased and unsubstantiated research.
Current Status: Ongoing.
CA DOJ Policies Prohibiting Interstate Private Party Transfer of Handguns
Description: Contrary to California law, DOJ prohibits FFLs from conducting PPT’s when the seller is not a resident of California.
Regulatory Counsel Status: NRA and CRPA submitted a petition to the Office of Administrative Law challenging DOJ’s policy as an “underground regulation.”
Current Status: The Office of Administrative Law decided not to take action. Further legal action is being considered.
Hunting Regulatory Matters
Coalition Building & Uniting Hunting Groups to Promote and Protect Hunting Rights
Recent Action: Prepared two full days of presentations developed by NRA and CRPA to California hunting groups laying out a plan for addressing attacks on hunting rights in California.
Status: The groups unanimously agreed to form a coalition and develop a coordinated system to effectively and efficiently oppose and roll back anti-hunting regulations.
Potential Legal Challenges to Regulations Restricting Hunting Right
Agency: Fish & Game Commission, Municipalities, Regulatory Bodies
Prepare memoranda on viability of lawsuits challenging regulations; maintain ongoing list of potential legal challenges.
Ongoing efforts to closely monitor current and potential legal challenges to timely and effectively intervene or file litigation as appropriate.
Monitoring anti-hunting forces
Agency: Fish & Game Commission, Municipalities, Regulatory Bodies
Ongoing monitoring of lawsuits and activities of potential interest to hunting related matters in California. Regularly submit public records act requests for documents concerning efforts of anti-hunting groups. Analyze Fish & Game Commission meeting agendas and prepare lobbyists for addressing matters of interest at FGC & WRC meetings.
Ongoing efforts to closely monitor various hunting related issues to allow for timely and effective intervention as necessary.
Increasing Support for Hunting Rights Throughout California
Developed and distributed computer presentations for distribution by coalition of hunting groups that outline the attacks hunters are facing. Presented to Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports regarding issues in California to garner support.
Ongoing efforts to grow hunting rights coalitions and spread awareness.
Recent Action: Prepare alerts regarding new hunting rules and regulations and advise of NRA and CRPA efforts to promote and defend hunting rights in California.
Agency: Fish & Game Commission
Recent Action: Development of petitions to repeal or amend current regulations that negatively affect hunters and to promote adoption of regulations that benefit hunters.
Status: The petition to allow big game archery hunters to carry side arms has been referred to the Department for possible implementation.
Opposing HSUS Predator Policies
Agency: Fish & Game Commission, Municipalities
Recent Action: Ongoing efforts to prepare representatives for attendance at Wildlife Resource Committee hearings on predators. Presented at coyote management symposium regarding negative impacts of HSUS on predator management policies. Drafted manuscript explaining HSUS lies for publication in predator management circles. Grassroots organization to mobilize and direct local residents of cities with HSUS coyote policies.
Status: Ongoing efforts to challenge HSUS regarding non-lethal coyote policies in cities where pets and family members are being attacked. Working to broaden coalition of individuals opposed to HSUS policies in light of dangers to typical family households while informing industry members of predator management about opportunities to oppose.
Range Matters Report
Recent Action: Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) Region 5R has been inspecting all shooting ranges in the region requiring sampling for potential lead contamination in stormwater runoff, utilizing drinking water standards. This has the potential to set extremely bad precedent for regulating ranges for stormwater runoff (using drinking water standards) and may potentially shut down numerous ranges.
Status: Ongoing efforts to assist ranges and engage the RWQCB Region 5R representatives to contest the validity of RWQCB’s actions. Working to prevent RWQCB from using the drinking water standards (0.010 mg/L for lead) and invoke the proper stormwater standards (0.262 mg/L), if not stopping RWQCB’s actions entirely.
Non-conforming “Use Status” and “Use Intensification”
Recent Action: Counties are attempting to break shooting ranges’ grandfathering as a non-conforming use under County Ordinance. Once the grandfathered status of a range is broken through a use intensification argument or a subsequent County Ordinance requiring a Conditional Use Permit under the guise of health and safety concerns, compliance with current County Ordinance is effectively impossible and range closure is certain.
Status: Ongoing efforts to assist ranges in defending their grandfathered status is crucial in keeping these ranges open and operating.
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A California state court issued an important ruling in the NRA and CRPA supported case of Gentry v. Becerra, holding DOJ accountable for its historical mismanagement and misuse of DROS (dealer record of sale) account funds.
The 2016 compilation of legislative policies of the ABA includes a raft of gun control proposals. In it, the ABA advocates for outmoded gun control measures, such as limits on the sale and possession of ...
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At the request of Public Health, Seattle & King County, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries has released a “first draft” of a new statewide regulatory scheme targeting lead and lead exposure in the workplace. ...
Award-winning journalist John Stossel published a report this week that provides a timely reminder that – nearly a decade after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller – law abiding gun ...
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.