California DOJ’s Assault Weapon Registration Scheme Heads to Federal Court

California DOJ’s Assault Weapon Registration Scheme Heads to Federal Court
California DOJ’s Assault Weapon Registration Scheme Heads to Federal Court

SACRAMENTO, CA-(Ammoland.com)- Attorneys for seven California gun owners and five advocacy organizations announced a new court filing in a now-federal constitutional rights lawsuit over the State of California’s “assault weapon” registration debacle. The case, Sharp, et al. v. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, et al., was originally filed in the County of Shasta Superior Court. But in late August it was removed to federal district court in Sacramento at the request of Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the DOJ defendants. The new court filing is online at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/sharp.

On August 24, the California Attorney General moved the case to federal court on the basis that the plaintiffs’ claims present a federal constitutional question, in addition to their state-based claims. That same day, the lawsuit was assigned to District Court Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. Two years ago, Judge England issued a bench ruling to enjoin a California statute that criminalized the use of Assembly video footage in political advertisements in a case brought by Firearms Policy Coalition and its Proposition 63 ballot initiative political committee, FPC Second Amendment Defense Committee.

“While it’s interesting that Attorney General Becerra doesn’t want his own state’s courts to hear how badly he mis-administered the mandated firearm registration program, we welcome the opportunity to show Judge England how the DOJ violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs and others like them,” said George M. Lee, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “General Becerra’s actions and failures affected many gun owners from San Diego to Eureka. These law-abiding gun owners tried to register their weapons as required by law but could not do so because DOJ’s registration system was wholly inadequate to do the job. We are simply asking that those injuries be reasonably remedied so that those citizens are not subject to criminal liability for possessing illegal, unregistered weapons – solely as a result of DOJ’s failures.”

In the latest complaint, submitted last Friday, the plaintiffs added a claim for deprivation of their due process rights under Title 42, Section 1983 of the United States Code. The complaint also adds as an institutional plaintiff the Madison Society Foundation, a nonprofit organization that fights to protect the right to keep and bear arms.

The plaintiffs say that Becerra and the DOJ had a legal and constitutional duty to provide a functional registration system during the registration period, but that they were unable to exercise their own rights and legal duties “due to the Defendants’ actions and failures, including but not limited to the inaccessibility, defects, and/or non-functionality of the DOJ’s CFARS-based registration system.” The plaintiffs alleged that the DOJ’s ‘botched’ “assault weapon” registration scheme – including the error-prone Internet application for registration that often crashed completely – violated both the U.S. Constitution and California Constitution’s guarantees of due process. They also allege that the failed DOJ system violated the plaintiffs’ and other similar gun owners’ statutory rights.

“Even though the lawsuit is now in a federal district court, it’s still just a straight-forward case about how Attorney General Becerra and his DOJ didn’t do the job they were mandated to do,” explained Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs. “Their actions and failures violated the rights of thousands of California gun owners. It’s just that simple.”

Under California’s voluminous gun control laws, someone merely transporting an unregistered “assault weapon” to the shooting range – even if one believes it was legal and registered under other DOJ systems, like DROS – “is guilty of a felony” and potentially subject to a prison sentence of “four, six, or eight years.” Other crimes can be added on to that, including common separate charges like possession and manufacturing.

The complaint says the plaintiffs “seek an un-extraordinary result, compelled by the basic tenets of due process: That they simply be allowed to register their eligible firearms and comply with the law, and that the Attorney General, the DOJ, and their officers and agents similarly comply with the law by allowing such registrations and ensuring they are properly and timely processed through a functioning online database as they have been required by statute to do.”

“This unjust California government-created problem must be stopped immediately,” Second Amendment Foundation Founder and Executive Vice President, Alan Gottlieb, said in a previous statement. “Gun owners should not be put at risk due to state regulatory incompetence.”

The plaintiffs said that they would soon be asking Judge England for a preliminary injunction to protect affected gun owners’ rights and property while the case goes forward to summary judgement or trial.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys George M. Lee and Douglas Applegate of San Francisco-based Seiler Epstein Ziegler & Applegate LLP, as well as Raymond M. DiGuiseppe, a former California deputy attorney general and prosecutor. Attorneys Bradley Benbrook and Stephen Duvernay of the Sacramento-based Benbrook Law Group, who earlier this month secured a major First Amendment victory in a case that challenged a different California gun control statute that banned truthful, non-misleading speech about handguns, have been added to the legal team.

The lawsuit is backed by The Calguns Foundation (CGF), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and Madison Society Foundation (MSF), also institutional plaintiffs in the case.

Californians who tried to register their firearms as “assault weapons” before July 1 but were unable to, or who suffered a privacy breach at DOJ, should contact the organizations’ Legal Action Hotline immediately at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/hotline or by telephone at 855-252-4510.


About Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC):Firearms Policy Coalition

Firearms Policy Coalition is a grassroots 501(c)4 nonprofit public benefit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

More information about FPC can be found at www.firearmspolicy.org.

12 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
james
james
3 years ago

I find it interesting that many of these laws, CA and other state, determine the individual “is guilty of a felony”,
when only a court of law and jury can determine guilt.

Lee
Lee
3 years ago

Unfortunately not only do i live in california but i have already been inslaved and do not have the rigjt to bare arms any longer. However i would still rather die than have my fellow law abiding citizens gun rights taken away because then we all become slaves. That they even try limiting our magazine sizes and type of wepons one can buy only shows that the objective is really just that…slavery. U cant police someone that has an automatic fire arm if u only have a rock. However if the day comes that our second amendment rights are taken… Read more »

m.
m.
3 years ago

f caliph-ornication and its mostly commie dhimmi-crat goober-mint

js
js
3 years ago

Fukc registration. California is a bunch of pussies

Gregory Romeu
Gregory Romeu
3 years ago

This article brings up many questions the first one being what exactly do they considered to be an “assault weapon” and of course I can’t lie didn’t we already go over this Firearms registration thing innocence by the failed Fast and Furious operation that the Obama Administration pulled off and got fellow U.S. Marine and U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry murdered?

Edward Allen
Edward Allen
2 years ago
Reply to  Gregory Romeu

California considers any rifle that is semi-auto and has a detachable magazine an assault weapon if it has ANY of the following:
Pistol Grip – This includes rifle stocks that have a pistol grip such as the archangel stock.
Flash Hider – flash suppressor
forward hand grip
Capacity of greater than 10 rounds.

Any AR style pistol.

Rich in FREE Missouri
Rich in FREE Missouri
3 years ago

What exactly does “registration” achieve? Does it make the firearm safer or more manageable? No, it makes YOU more manageable. After registration you are one door knock away from confiscation. Free people are not slaves and slaves don’t own guns. I am willing to die to protect my freedom, who is willing to die trying to take it? I may be killed but I will NEVER be enslaved. Good thing I don’t live in California.

mikeL
mikeL
3 years ago

The way I looked at it was I legally purchased my assumed assault weapon here in californicate. It’s on file with what is cal doj. So, if these criminals are mandating another registration thru their website, along with pics of said weapon, yes pics, then basically all one is doing is putting crosshairs on one’s back, and that I’m not doing. This is how I have understood this pos law!

DaveW
DaveW
3 years ago
Reply to  mikeL

Which explains why so many people in CA, and other states, have chosen to follow civil disobedience in protest of these insane laws. For example, Los Angeles passed a law banning “high capacity magazines”. Practically none were turned in to law enforcement, moved out of state, or destroyed. In another state, an estimated 29,000 so called “assault weapons” were not registered in addition to the same results as Los Angeles regarding magazines.

DaveW
DaveW
3 years ago

Unfortunately, such comments as yours never disappear from the internet. They can be used to show prior intent.

We here in CA who are pro-2A feel much the same way. It’s why we need Kavenaugh on the Supreme Court, and a solid case to back up the Constitution, and to spank the progressives for their laws, in violation of their oaths of office to “…support and defend the Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California…”, which infringe upon the rights of law abiding citizens.

Rich in Mo.
Rich in Mo.
3 years ago
Reply to  DaveW

Dave W, my intent is a peaceful life. However, if need be I will defend myself, my family and the freedoms I was born to as an American. I chose my words carefully and I mean what I say. That you find those ideas provocative shows how far down the rabbit-hole of subservience to your state you’ve gone. I’m not sure how you plan on “spanking” progressives when you’re bowing to them. Better keep copies of your gun pictures that you send them, soon that may be all you have left.

Michael Marx
Michael Marx
3 years ago

Take the fight to the end