On Thursday, California Eastern District Judge Kimberly Mueller declined to stop the state from imposing a ban on the sale of new handguns that are not microstamped. Unless the case is overturned on appeal, today’s decision would effectively ban the sale or possession of new semiauto handguns in the state. “This is about the state trying to eliminate the handgun market,” said Alan Gura, the lead attorney in Peña v. Lindley told Fox News last week. “The evidence submitted by the manufacturers shows this is science fiction and there is not a practical way to implement the law.” The case, Peña v. Lindley, dates from 2009, and it pitted California resident Ivan Peña and three other individual plaintiffs against Stephen Lindley, the chief of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms. At issue was the state’s “microstamping” law, which in 2007 was signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but which only took effect in 2013.
During a short period in which the Second Amendment applied to states and local governments within the federal Ninth Circuit through a case called Nordyke v. King, Ivan Peña, Roy Vargas, Doña Croston, Brett Thomas, The Calguns Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation filed a federal civil rights lawsuit called Peña v. Cid (now Peña v. Lindley) against the California Department of Justice that challenged the constitutionality of the state’s “Handgun Roster” laws.
The Peña case, helmed by civil rights attorneys Gura, Donald Kilmer, and Jason Davis, was argued at the trial court on December 17, 2013.
Since the law took effect in 2013, no manufacturer has made a new firearm that complies with the requirement. Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co., have stopped selling new firearms in the California market because of the microstamping law.
Peña, gun manufacturers, and attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns Foundation argued that microstamping relies on an unworkable technology. So if guns without the technology can’t be sold in California, and gun manufacturers can’t implement the technology, the law functions as a handgun ban that violates the Second Amendment.
According to a Calguns Foundation statement about Judge Mueller’s decision, the group is “disappointed that the district court sidestepped a clear violation of Second Amendment civil rights in its decision today. However, we are absolutely committed to litigating this case as far as necessary to reverse this incorrect ruling and restore the right to keep and bear modern handguns in the Golden State.” “It is utterly preposterous that a Federal Court would rule that a ban on all new semiautomatic handguns does not burden Second Amendment rights,” the Calguns statement continued. “Such a decision conflicts with Ninth Circuit precedent, much less the Supreme Court’s holdings in Heller and McDonald v. Chicago.” Calguns said counsel has already appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.