By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – California’s law banning the sale of semiautomatic centerfire rifles to individuals under 21 was declared unconstitutional by a panel of federal appeals judges on Wednesday.
In a 2-1 panel ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s law violated the Second Amendment, which protects an individual’s right to own a firearm. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law, Senate Bill 61, in 2019, prohibiting the sale of a semiautomatic rifle to a person under 21 unless they are in law enforcement or a member of the military.
“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” Judge Ryan Nelson wrote. “Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.”
The judges’ ruling reversed a district court’s previous order, writing that the district court had “erred in not enjoining an almost total ban on semiautomatic centerfire rifles.” The district court will now be tasked with reconsidering its decision based on the appellate panel ruling.
The case, Jones v. Bonta, was brought forth by the Firearms Policy Coalition, who praised the panel’s ruling.
“Today’s decision confirms that peaceable legal adults cannot be prohibited from acquiring firearms and exercising their rights enshrined in the Second Amendment,” FPC Vice President of Programs Adam Kraut said in a statement. “We are pleased to see progress on this important legal front and optimistic that similar results will come from our many other challenges to age-based bans filed in courts across the United States.”
The panel of judges, however, did affirm the district court’s ruling as it relates to long gun regulation.
Under California law, a young adult is barred from purchasing a long gun unless they get a hunting license or are in the military or law enforcement. The FPC had sought an injunction that would have blocked the state from enforcing this law, but the appeals court affirmed the district court’s denial of the injunction.
Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office said in a statement that they are reviewing the appeals court’s decision.
“California will continue to take all necessary steps to prevent and reduce gun violence,” Mr. Bonta’s office said. “We remain committed to defending California’s common sense gun laws, which save lives and make our communities safer.”