US Judge Issues Blistering Order Against Calif. Handgun Law: 'Extraordinary and Drastic Remedy'
It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it — and this judge said it beautifully.
In a blistering ruling Monday, a federal judge in California issued a stay blocking enforcement of a state handgun law ostensibly aimed at promoting gun safety but actually blocking new guns from being sold entirely.
And from beginning to end, the order cut the law into pieces.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney of the Central District of California, appointed in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush, kicked off the 22-page ruling with the unflinching statement that the Constitution’s Second Amendment “guarantees the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”
“That right is so fundamental that to regulate conduct covered by the Second Amendment’s plain text, the government must show more than that the regulation promotes an important interest like reducing accidental discharges or solving crime,” Carney wrote, citing the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision. (Emphasis added.)
“Rather, to be constitutional, regulations of Second Amendment rights must be consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” the judge said.
A federal judge blocked key provisions of a California law that drastically restricts the sale of new handguns in the state, saying parts of the legislation violate the Second Amendment. https://t.co/fxmxK3PyS5
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) March 21, 2023
According to ABC News, Carney’s ruling stopping the state from enforcing the law won’t go into effect for two weeks, allowing time for appeal. And California Attorney General Rob Bonta has issued a statement vowing to “continue to lead efforts to advance and defend California’s gun safety laws.”
However, while Bonta is deciding how to proceed, he might want to take an honest look at Carney’s ruling — and his own state’s history when it comes to this law.
Laudatory goals such as reducing accidents and solving crime were among the excuses California lawmakers used for the Unsafe Handguns Act, a law originally passed in 2001 and amended in 2007 and 2013.
But whatever the merits of those goals, the real liberal aim is gun control, restricting the Second Amendment, and at that, the law has succeeded marvelously.
In fact, Carney wrote, it’s had the practical effect of outlawing the sale of newly manufactured handguns in the Golden State.
The 2007 amendments required indicators to signal when a gun has a round in a chamber and a mechanism that prevents guns from firing if a magazine is not fully inserted, the judge said. The 2013 amendment required “microstamping,” a process by which every round fired includes microscopic characters identifying the weapon’s make and serial number, Carney wrote.
“No handgun available in the world has all three of these features,” he said in the ruling.
That’s mainly because the final one — microstamping — literally does not even exist in commercial weapons “because the technology effectuating microstamping on a broad scale is simply not technologically feasible and commercially practical,” Carney wrote.
“Since 2007 … very few new handguns have been introduced for sale in California with those features,” he said. “Since 2013, when the microstamping requirement was introduced, not a single new semiautomatic handgun has been approved for sale in California. That is because the technology effectuating microstamping on a broad scale is simply not technologically feasible and commercially practical.”
Good intentions, in other words — even the good intentions of California progressives — can’t create technology that doesn’t exist.
“The result of this is that when Californians today buy a handgun at a store, they are largely restricted to models from over sixteen years ago,” Carney wrote.
The judge didn’t add “you idiots” after each sentence of the ruling, but it comes through loud and clear.
Aside from demolishing California lawmakers’ attempts to play King Canute with firearms manufacturers, Carney took apart the utterly fatuous rationalizations behind the law, which cited Revolutionary-generation regulations to claim the law operated within the requirement that it be “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
And this is where the law gets laughable.
According to Carney’s ruling, California’s case presented the Unsafe Handgun Act as simply a modern version of state laws in the early life of the United States, including one that required weapons for sale to go through “proving” — i.e., verification by an official inspector that the weapons could fire and that the shot would cover the distance expected.
Those are basic requirements that the gun that’s being sold will meet the buyer’s needs — that it would hit the animal or human it was being fired at on the frontier farm or the mountain path, not that it wouldn’t go off accidentally.
Carney gave the discussion more time than it was worth but concluded: “Put simply, requiring each model of handgun to contain additional features to potentially help a user safely operate the handgun is completely different from ensuring that each firearm’s basic features were adequately manufactured for safe operation.”
Another early American precedent the judge cited controlled the storage of gunpowder. But those regulations were safety measures to prevent accidental fire, Carney wrote.
They were not intended to limit the ability of gun owners to procure weapons or fire them when they were needed.
It’s almost insulting to the intelligence to have to answer arguments like this, when all California’s progressives are interested in, plainly, is the power to control the Second Amendment rights the state’s citizens have by virtue of being Americans. But Carney answered, and he didn’t flinch.
“Californians have the constitutional right to acquire and use state-of-the-art handguns to protect themselves. They should not be forced to settle for decade-old models of handguns to ensure that they remain safe inside or outside the home,” the judge wrote.
“Because enforcing those requirements implicates the plain text of the Second Amendment, and the government fails to point to any well-established historical analogues that are consistent with them, those requirements are unconstitutional and their enforcement must be preliminarily enjoined,” he said.
To repeat, California’s handgun law “implicates the plain text of the Second Amendment” and it has no basis in American historical tradition. That sounds like pretty much every goal of the gun-grabbing left.
“A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the moving party is entitled to relief,” Carney wrote.
But in this case, he said, the “extraordinary and drastic remedy” is justified by the circumstances.
Carney’s ruling made that clear — and he didn’t just reject California’s arguments, he demolished them.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his attorney general should take that into account while they decide whether to appeal.
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