California has long been known for having some of America’s harshest gun laws. However, the state got a little freer this week after two Trump-appointed judges said one of those restrictions is unconstitutional.
According to the Daily Caller, a three-judge panel with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that a state law banning the sale of semiautomatic rifles to those under 21 years of age.
Twenty-year-old plaintiff sought to buy a gun for self-defense
The case was brought by 20-year-old San Diego County resident Matthew Jones, who sought to challenge two state laws. One prohibits individuals who are under 21 from purchasing semiautomatic rifles unless they are police officers or serving in the military.
Another law requires those who are until 21 to first get a hunting license before they may acquire a manually operated long gun.
Jones, who is neither in law enforcement nor the military, indicated that he wished to own a weapon for self-defense but did not want to obtain a hunting license. District Judge M. James Lorenz ruled against Jones in his challenge to both laws.
Yet in a two-to-one decision, Judges Kenneth K. Lee and Ryan Nelson threw out the ban on people under 21 from purchasing semiautomatic rifles but kept the hunting license requirement in place.
“The main difference between this ban and the long gun regulation is the exceptions,” said Ryan as he wrote for the majority. The long gun regulation has a readily available exception, at least on its face – young adults can get hunting licenses.”
However, Ryan noted that “[t]he semiautomatic rifle ban has no such exception: the only young adults who can buy semiautomatic rifles are some law enforcement officers and active-duty military service members.”
Thus, while Lorenz was correct in applying a standard of intermediate scrutiny when evaluating the hunting license requirement, the semi-auto ban warranted a higher standard of review.
California attorney general is reviewing the decision
“It’s one thing to say that young adults must take a course and purchase a hunting license before obtaining certain firearms,” Nelson acknowledged. “But to say that they must become police officers or join the military? For most young adults, that is no exception at all.”
Although Wednesday’s decision was welcomed by 2nd Amendment advocates, it did not go over well with California’s Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta.