Federal Appeals Court Rules California Gun Restriction Is Unconstitutional


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A semiautomatic AK-47 is pictured with a 30 round magazine and a 7.62x39mm round at Good Guys Gun and Range in Orem, Utah.

A semiautomatic AK-47 is pictured with a 30 round magazine and a 7.62x39mm round at Good Guys Gun and Range in Orem, Utah. (George Frey / Getty Images)

 By Abby Liebing  May 12, 2022 at 7:50am

On Wednesday, in a 2-1 ruling, a federal appeals court struck down the California law that prohibited the sale of semiautomatic firearms to anyone under 21 years old.

The law came into effect on July 1, 2021, and also restricted the purchase of semiautomatic weapons to one per month, CNN reported.

“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army. Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms,” Judge Ryan D. Nelson of the Ninth Circuit Court wrote in his decision.

He said in his opinion that the California law was an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of those ages 18 to 21.

Judge Kenneth K. Lee, the second vote on the court in favor of striking down the law, agreed.

“We cannot allow good intentions to trump an enumerated and ‘fundamental right’ deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this country,” Lee wrote.

The Firearms Policy Coalition, which brought the case, said that after this ruling they are optimistic that age-based bans on guns will be overturned in other courts, the Associated Press reported.

“Today’s decision confirms that peaceable legal adults cannot be prohibited from acquiring firearms and exercising their rights enshrined in the Second Amendment,” said Adam Kraut, coalition vice president of programs, in a statement, CNN reported.

This could also mark the U.S. courts becoming more favorable towards expanding gun rights, University of California law professor Adam Winkler said, according to the AP.

Are you in favor of this ban being struck down?

“Federal judges can read the tea leaves,” Winkler said. “In the coming years, the courts seem certain to strike down numerous gun safety measures in the name of the 2nd Amendment.”

“This 9th Circuit ruling is a harbinger of things to come,” Winkler added.

However, State Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office said it was reviewing the court’s decision, CNN reported.

“California will continue to take all necessary steps to prevent and reduce gun violence. We remain committed to defending California’s commonsense gun laws, which save lives and make our communities safer,” a statement from Bonta’s office read.

This decision from the circuit court, though a significant victory for gun rights, does not have any bearing on the California law that requires adults between the ages of 18 and 21 to have a hunting license to purchase rifles or shotguns.

California Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino, who wrote both of these laws, said he was disappointed that the law for the semiautomatic weapons was struck down by the court.

“I remain committed to keeping deadly weapons out of the wrong hands,” Portantino said.

“Student safety on our campuses is something we should all rally behind, and sensible gun control is part of that solution.”

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Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.

Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.

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