A federal judge has handed down a major civil rights victory in California this week. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, a George W. Bush appointee, overturned California’s ban on modern handguns. It’s hard to believe, but no modern handgun has been sold in California in the past 10 years. One of California’s major civil rights abuses against its citizens has been nuked from orbit by this decision.
California had imposed a ridiculous amount of restrictions on handgun sales, requiring rare or even theoretical safety devices and other nonsense. Between all of the rules passed by the legislature, it became impossible to sell anything as common or new as a Colt 1911 in California. If it has a detachable magazine or other features that nearly all modern firearms share, it was made illegal by the state. Only pistols made with 19th-century technology such as revolvers and other ancient technology could be used.
President Donald Trump deserves credit for this big civil rights victory. It was only through his appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices that this was possible. Last year, the court decided in favor of citizen handgun ownership in the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case.
Judge Carney stated in his ruling, “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.”
California has gone insane with its Second Amendment restrictions in recent decades. While it is not the worst state in the US for gun owners (Hey there, Massachusetts!), it’s still really awful. Even last year, the Democrats with a supermajority in the California legislature passed a law making it harder for civil rights groups to challenge their gun laws in court. Fortunately, a different federal judge shot that law full of holes.
The law that was just overturned was the California Unsafe Handgun Act of 2001. Under the initial law, any handgun that did not have a loaded chamber indicator or a magazine disconnect safety was banned from sale. The law was amended in 2013 to require a mythical technology called “microstamping.”
This is a technology in which every shell casing is imprinted with a microstamp when it is fired from a handgun. The idea was that if police pick up a spent shell casing at a crime scene, the micro-stamp would help them identify the person who had fired the shot. Sounds neat on paper, but it’s fake technology. No gun manufacturer has ever been able to create a functional microstamping technology like this. If it was possible, they would have invented it by now, because California has a huge market of potential gun buyers.
As a result of the 2013 amendment to the Unsafe Handgun Act, no Californian was able to buy any new handguns, because handguns didn’t have this fairy tale technology that doesn’t exist.
“Since 2013, when the microstamping requirement was introduced, not a single new semiautomatic handgun has been approved for sale in California,” noted Judge Carney.
California’s attorneys fought tooth and nail to try to keep these restrictions in place. For example, they argued that Colonial-era regulations on the storage of gunpowder were the basis for requiring loaded chamber indicators. Fortunately, Judge Carney didn’t buy any of those arguments. He ruled that there are no historical analogs that the state of California had proven in order to justify restricting the sale of handguns. The state will likely appeal Judge Carney’s ruling, but this is a doomed effort at this point. The Supreme Court has set the precedent, and Californians will finally have their civil rights restored shortly.