June 2017

A Piece of ‘Gunmageddon’ Challenged

Todd Woodard

The California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) and several individual plaintiffs have filed an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s newly expanded Assault Weapons Control Act (AWCA).

The suit, Rupp v. Becerra, seeks to have the courts declare the AWCA unconstitutional because it infringes on the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.

The AWCA makes it illegal to manufacture, sell, transport, import or transfer hundreds of popular and commonly owned semi-automatic firearms the state tags as “assault weapons.” This means it is illegal for owners to transfer or sell these firearms to anyone in California, including to their own children or heirs upon death. And owners themselves will be violating the law by continuing to possess their firearms unless they register them as “assault weapons” with the state.

The Rupp case was filed in direct response to a number of anti-gun-owner laws, including the expanded “assault weapon” statute, which were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July 2016. Collectively, those new gun bans have become known as “gunmageddon” among California’s roughly 10 million gun owners.

At the time of this writing, an interesting bill in the Keystone State was moving through the General Assembly. HB 671 would toughen existing law to ensure that firearms and ammunition laws are consistent throughout the state. It’s needed because many local governments have enacted gun-control ordinances in violation of the current preemption law. There aren’t penalties for disobedience in the current preemption statute, so officials are free to create a patchwork of regulations that could ensnare citizens in local restrictions they didn’t even know existed. Legislation similar to HB 671 was signed by former Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014, but was struck down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last year for a violation of the “single subject” rule for legislative process.

In New Jersey, a decorated Marine veteran facing a mandatory three years behind bars on a gun charge will not be going to prison after all. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie commuted Marine Sergeant Hisashi Pompey’s sentence in April. Six years ago during a visit to New Jersey, Pompey was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, which was legally registered in Virginia. Pompey had lost an appeal and was set to surrender to authorities when Gov. Christie threw Pompey a lifeline. However, the commuted sentence does not expunge the arrest from Pompey’s record; it simply removes the punishment that resulted from the arrest.

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