by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Caroline Downey writes for National Review Online about a significant development on the left coast.
A federal judge on Monday blocked enforcement of a decades-old California law that requires newly developed handguns to have particular safety features, ruling the regulation overly stringent and a violation of the Second Amendment.
California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, enacted in 2001, aims to prevent accidental discharges through various safety standards. The legislation mandates that certain handguns have a chamber-load indicator and a magazine-disconnect mechanism that prevents a handgun from being fired if the magazine is not fully inserted. To assist with gun-crime investigations, the firearms also must have a microstamping mechanism, which allows the transfer of microscopic imprints of the handgun’s make, model, and serial number onto shell casings when the gun is fired.
“These regulations are having a devastating impact on Californians’ ability to acquire and use new, state-of-the-art handguns,” federal District Judge Cormac J. Carney, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in his order.“Since 2013, when the microstamping requirement was introduced, not a single new semiautomatic handgun has been approved for sale in California.”
Microstamping technology is “not technologically feasible and commercially practical” to incorporate into new handguns on a large scale, he wrote.
The rule has been stifling the manufacture of more advanced handguns, Carney argued, inhibiting Californians from exercising their constitutional right to bear arms.
“When Californians today buy a handgun at a store, they are largely restricted to models from over sixteen years ago,” Carney wrote.
The plaintiffs included four individuals and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, a gun-rights organization, who launched the legal action challenging the law last August.
California claimed safety-precaution laws surrounding gunmaking have existed since America’s early years. For example, there was a Founding-era regulation against storing gunpowder improperly so as to avoid accidental building fires. The state also said the regulation doesn’t prohibit possessing all handguns, only those it deems prone to accident. The plaintiffs rebutted that the rule erodes their gun rights clearly stipulated in the Constitution, with which Carney agreed.