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Federal appeals court reinstates California law requiring background checks for ammo purchases

A federal judge previously ruled that the California law violated a citizen's Second Amendment right to bear arms

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Last month, a federal judge struck down a California law requiring background checks for people buying ammunition, saying that it violated a citizen's Second Amendment right to bear arms. Now, a federal appeals court has reinstated the law requiring background checks for ammo.

California became the first state in the U.S. to require background checks for ammunition when the law went into effect on July 1, 2019.

Two weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez in San Diego said California's ammo regulations were "constitutionally defective." Benitez argued that the ammo background checks hurt legal ammunition buyers while doing very little to prevent criminals from obtaining ammunition.

"California's new ammunition background check law misfires, and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured," Benitez wrote in his 120-page opinion. "In this action, Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction enjoining California's onerous and convoluted new laws requiring ammunition purchase background checks and implementing ammunition anti-importation laws."

"Criminals, tyrants, and terrorists don't do background checks," the judge stated. "The background check experiment defies common sense while unduly and severely burdening the Second Amendment rights of every responsible, gun-owning citizen desiring to lawfully buy ammunition."

Benitez blocked the ammunition law and ruled in favor of the California Rifle & Pistol Association and six-time Olympic medalist skeet shooter Kim Rhode, who asked to halt the background checks.

On Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed the decision made by Benitez. The National Rifle Association reacted to the ruling.

"Late Friday night, the following order came out from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, granting a temporary stay on the injunction issued on Thursday, April 24, in the NRA funded case of Rhode v. Becerra," the NRA wrote. "This means that the same restrictions that have been previously in effect regarding ammunition in California are back for the time being, pending further order from the court."

The law requires buyers to pay a $1 background check fee each time they buy ammunition, even if they already passed a background check.

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