California loses another round in lawsuit over ammunition rules

SACRAMENTO -- An appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s issuance of a permanent injunction against a 2009 state law that would have required Californians who buy handgun ammunition to supply their thumbprint, photo ID and other information.

The decision Wednesday by the California Court of Appeals for the 5th District agreed with Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker, who filed a lawsuit arguing that the law was improperly vague in applying to “handgun ammunition” because many bullets can be used in short and long guns.

“The level of certainty necessary to provide fair notice of the proscribed conduct and adequate standards for compliance with the law is missing,” the appellate court decision said. “Therefore, the statutory scheme is unconstitutional.”

The decision also blocks a portion of the bill that would have prevented mail-order sales of handgun ammunition, according to Chuck Michel, an attorney for the National Rifle Assn. who litigated the case.

Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) authored the original state law and tried unsuccessfully this year to fix it by introducing a bill requiring Californians to be fingerprinted and get background checks for purchase of all ammunition. De Leon dropped the bill for this year after Gov. Jerry Brown expressed concerns, but the Senator plans to pursue the broader regulation next year, according to Dan Reeves, his chief of staff.


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