Federal District Court Upholds California’s Handgun Roster

Gavel in Court

The case is Pena v. Lindley, a Calguns Foundation case challenging the constitutionality of California’s handgun roster. A roster that was created specifically for the purpose of banning cheap handguns. Not a right for the poor, I guess. Under California law, handguns that don’t appear on the roster are illegal to sell. Manufacturers have to pay recurring fees to stay on the list. The firearms have to be micro-stamped. They have to be drop tested. Otherwise they may not be sold.

There was no intermediate scrutiny two step. The court ruled that the Second Amendment wasn’t even implicated here, and this was among the kinds of regulations that were “presumptively lawful,” per Heller. The statute survived rational basis review, which is all that the court felt was required. The court believed that as long as you could still buy some handguns, the state was perfectly justified in banning large numbers of them. The judge also wasn’t buying the equal protection arguments in the case, so police can be a special class of citizen as far as the judge is concerned.

This is unfortunately not shocking, that a federal judge would so summarily dismiss a restriction on a fundamental right. We’ve seen it time and time again. Needless to say this will be appealed. It’s worth noting the judge in this case was a Clinton appointee.

15 thoughts on “Federal District Court Upholds California’s Handgun Roster”

  1. The whole your right to buy a gun wasn’t infringed, just so long as it’s a different gun, reaks of the same argument that homosexuals have a right to get married, just so long as it’s someone of the opposite sex.

    1. Yep. Or that the government can ban newspapers, as long as other newspapers are available. What kills me is the judge even noted in the decision that the purpose of the law was to limit the availability of cheap handguns, like that’s a perfectly legitimate government aim in the post-Heller world.

  2. Any guesses on what the Ninth will rule? I can’t see this standing at SCOTUS.

    1. The geographic area covered by the 9th is very large, and covers a number of both anti and pro liberty states. As such, cases tend to be assigned to a selection of judges from the court. Thus this case could go either way on appeal, depending on which judges it goes to, and potentially again if it goes en-banc.

    2. Panel of 3 on the Ninth will most certainly rule in favor of the state. SCOTUS will reverse and remand.

  3. When judges get it that moronically wrong they should be fired when the appeal is won. Make them stake their carrier on their judgments.

    1. If you applied that to the lower courts in the 2nd and 3rd circuits, it would effectively stifle any improvements for us.

      Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

  4. I don’t think this a-hole’s decision will be upheld on appeal. To follow his logic, the state could ban all handguns except single shot muzzle-loading pistols and rifles, and we know that would be ridiculous, and could never survive scrutiny. I think the law in its present incarnation will be determined “too broad” and remanded.

    1. “…To follow his logic, the state could ban all handguns except single shot muzzle-loading pistols and rifles…”

      I’m not familiar with CA’s microstamping requirements, but….

      That being said, this raises an interesting point: Might this become an ultimatum like the whole “we won’t rule to force allowing concealed carry while open carry is still an option” decision a few years back?

      What will happen when no commercial entity is still manufacturing firearms for sale in California? Will the courts then use this case as precedent for ruling the roster unconstitutional because it prevents ANY handguns from being sold in California?

      Aside from the issue of manufacturing/licensing costs for actually going down the microstamping rabbit hole, I think this is the reason why all the gun companies are announcing their intent to STOP making guns to comply with California: If none of them continue to kowtow to CA’s asinine infringements then no court can honestly rule that said infringements are constitutional.

    2. To Teebonicus – Regarding your first sentence, please do not make that type of personal remark about judges or justices. It makes the good guys like us lose credibility and respect.

  5. The judge, Kim Mueller, came up through the ranks as a SJW and then got appointed to the bench by BHO. She had been a city councilwoman in Sacramento and a legislative aide before going to law school in her mid-30s.

    Need I say more?

  6. For those who think this will either be struck by the 9th, or the SCT, I am not nearly as optimistic. In fact, I am pretty pessimistic.

    The real argument here is that citizens should be equally well armed as govt employees. The equal protection argument got short shrift. I am not as convinced that the 2A protects one’s choice of firearms, so long as citizens are equally armed as govt employees. I think legislatures will be given wide latitude to try crime control strategies. This case will look much better in 10 years, when there are no new handguns on the market for a decade, and the roster is down to a handful.

    I think courts are going to struggle with common use for a long time, and I am not convinced judges, including the SCT, are going to get to the point anytime soon where the equal protection argument gets more serious consideration.

    1. Equal protection definitely got the short shrift. On that I agree.

      As to equal protection guaranteeing the citizens being equally-armed in comparison to government employees, I think that’s the wrong argument to make. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the sentiment, but I don’t think the courts will.

      Try this one instead: Equal protection means that someone from one state has the same rights and privileges as someone from any other state*. In this case, a non-prohibited citizen from California should be legally allowed to purchase any gun that a non-prohibited citizen from Arizona can purchase.

      And “common use”. Dear, sweet “common use”. The courts aren’t struggling with this one: they just don’t like it, so they’re not listening to it. I don’t think in the long term it’s a terribly good precedent, but….

      Suppose SCOTUS took a case today and handed down a decision tomorrow that said that all guns of all styles are protected by the Second Amendment and must be available for law-abiding citizens to purchase and carry for lawful purposes, and that tax subsidies must be made available for low-income citizens so they can exercise their 2A rights. Now suppose that lower courts in CA, NY, and NJ (especially Clinton and Obama appointees) still continue to find that arbitrary “assault weapon” bans and “approved” handgun rosters are Constitutional, directly contradicting SCOTUS precedent, and that convictions for “illegal gun” possession must stand. If that happened, what will have changed from where we are, right now?

      * – See U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, paragraph 1: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

      1. Excellent argument. You’re right, common use and equal protection (govt) have been completely ignored, to the point of absurdity. Unfortunately, I have little faith that equal protection w/r/t the standard of other states would lose as well. CA, NJ, and NY will argue extenuating circumstance: Too populous, too much crime, to way to integrate within the frame work of their existing regulatory system, any kind of BS argument will be enough to get a suit kicked back and forth amongst different courts for another ten years.

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