Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California Law Prohibiting Young Adults From Buying Semiautomatic Weapons

A California law that bars young adults from buying semi-automatic weapons has been struck down by a federal appeals court as unconstitutional, a major victory for Second Amendment advocates in the state and a defeat for Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In a 2-1 split ruling Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Jones vs. Bonta, finding that the state law that prohibited persons under the age of 21 from purchasing center-fire semi-automatic weapons was a “severe burden” on fundamental Second Amendment rights. Under the ruling, people in the state over the age of 18 will now be able to purchase a firearm without a license.

The lawsuit was filed by Matthew Jones, a San Diego resident who was 20 years old at the time, and the Gun Policy Coalition after the California State Legislature passed SB 1100 in 2019, in response to the shooting. at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. , Florida

Writing for the majority, Justice Ryan D. Nelson stated that “young adults have the protections of the Second Amendment as persons who are part of a national community.” The 100-page decision extensively examined the history of youth gun ownership, dating back to the early days of English settlers in the United States, and cited extensively from the landmark Supreme Court gun rights case. District of Columbia v. Heller. He reversed the decision of the US District Court for the Southern District of California, which had upheld the law on the initial challenge.

Judge Kenneth K. Lee joined the decision but wrote an agreement explaining how the logic behind the California decision could be used to erode other constitutional rights. Both justices were appointed by Trump, with Senior Judge Sidney Stein, a Clinton-appointed district judge from the Southern District of New York sitting by appointment in the Ninth Circuit, disagreeing.

The ruling is a major defeat for California Democrats, who spearheaded the law as part of their progressive policy agenda to address gun violence in the state. The law was one of those signed by Governor Newsom in his first year in office. jones It was also the first high-profile case litigated by California Attorney General Robert Bonta, whom Newsom appointed to the job last year. In a statement, Bonta’s office said “California will continue to take all necessary steps to prevent and reduce gun violence,” but announced no plans to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court.

Newsom’s office did not comment on the ruling as of May 12. His administration has made gun regulations a major political issue and has proposed a gun buyback program for assault weapons. The bill, based on Texas’ fetal heartbeat restriction on abortion, would create a private right for citizens to sue gun suppliers for selling or importing such guns into the state.

However, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling did not invalidate the entire California law and left some components intact. These included requiring California residents between the ages of 18 and 21 to purchase a hunting license before purchasing a rifle or shotgun, with exceptions for youth serving in the military and law enforcement.

The 9th Circuit’s decision comes after the court faced heavy criticism from Republicans for its progressive rulings. Under the Trump administration, ten justices were nominated and confirmed to the court, leading to a majority of Republican appointees. The Circuit is the largest federal court of appeals, with 29 active benches serving more than 70 million people in nine states and hearing appeals from fifteen federal district courts. Your ruling will serve as a precedent for all courts in your jurisdiction.

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