Appeals Court Strikes Down Illegal DOJ Gun Control Policy

In a published decision issued today, California’s 3rd District Court of Appeal has issued an important new ruling striking down an illegal California Department of Justice (DOJ) gun control enforcement policy on multiple grounds. A copy of the Court of Appeal’s decision can be viewed at www.calgunsfoundation.org/doe.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014, was brought by two individuals after the DOJ’s Bureau of Firearms sent a letter notifying firearms dealers in the state of a new enforcement policy that prevents Californians who hold both a federal firearms license and a state Certificate of Eligibility, or “COE”, from purchasing more than one handgun in any 30-day period. After nearly two years of litigation, and in spite of both the requirements of the State’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and legal precedents on how to interpret statutes, the Sacramento Superior Court upheld the DOJ’s policy. But the Court of Appeal ultimately found that the policy was illegal, agreeing with the plaintiffs on both counts.

“This decision stands for the proposition that Attorney General Becerra and his Department of Justice are not above the law,” explained Brandon Combs, executive director for The Calguns Foundation. “They can’t simply make up the law as they go, without following the rules or having a legal basis in the statutes. The DOJ fabricated and enforced an illegal policy and we put an end to it with this case.”

Combs added that the decision is important for other issues as well, especially because it is citable as precedent. “Today’s decision is perhaps even more important because of the state’s new ammunition and assault weapon laws. Attorney General Becerra has been doing similar things in other areas of state law, and we are eager to show that, like their illegal policy here, those also must be enjoined and struck down.”

Plaintiffs’ attorney Bradley Benbrook of the Sacramento-based Benbrook Law Group hailed the decision. “We are gratified that the court affirmed the important principle that the State can’t take shortcuts when it tries to regulate citizens,” commented Benbrook. “It has to follow the rules.”

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