Special CRPA Bulletin on Boland v. Bonta
CALIFORNIA RIFLE & PISTOL ASSN. LAWSUIT
OPENS DOORS FOR THE INDUSTRY
CRPA SEEKS INDUSTRY ASSISTANCE
CRPA’s Boland v. Bonta lawsuit has so far achieved tremendous success in striking down provisions of California’s misnamed “Unsafe Handgun Act” (UHA) and making it possible for manufacturers to sell some new models of pistols for the first time in decades. CRPA needs industry support to strike down the UHA for good and open the California handgun market. One easy way to do this is simply to buy an ad in the CRPA’s magazine.
The Misnamed “Unsafe Handgun Act”
The UHA created the much-maligned “roster” of handguns approved for sale in California that has prevented Californians from being able to purchase thousands of the latest and safest semiautomatic handguns that are commonly available in all other states. Since 2013 the UHA has prevented pistol manufacturers from accessing the California handgun market – one of the biggest in the nation – because it requires pistols to be equipped with a loaded chamber indicator, magazine disconnect “safety,” and microstamping.
But thanks to CRPA’s lawsuit, for the first time in decades, manufacturers have been able to add some new firearms to the California list of firearms that can be sold.
CRPA’s Boland v Bonta Lawsuit
On March 20, 2023, Judge Cormac Carney granted the CRPA’s motion to preliminarily enjoin the UHA. The State of California immediately filed an appeal of that Order. In an interesting twist, the State did not seek to stop the injunction against the microstamping requirement. The State only asked for the Ninth Circuit to extend the stay as to the CLI and MDM provisions. So, microstamping is not currently a requirement to get a pistol on the roster of handguns that can be sold in California.
The Ninth Circuit held oral arguments last summer. Over 25 prestigious amicus briefs were filed supporting CRPA, including many filed by other states. We are awaiting a decision.
Because of CRPA’s lawsuit, the microstamping requirement is now eliminated, and the other two mandates should be eliminated as the case moves on. If CRPA can hold on to this victory, manufacturers and retailers will once again be able to freely sell to the California market, and purchasers will be able to buy the pistols that are most appropriate for their individual circumstances.
California’s Effort to Require Microstamping in the Future
Rather than defend the current microstamping law in the current lawsuit, the California legislature passed a new law that will require microstamping again in the future. The enactment of Senate Bill 452 last year removed the microstamping requirement from the UHA California Handgun Roster restrictions and instead made it its own standalone restriction. Implementation of SB 452 is delayed, first requiring DOJ to determine the “technological viability” of microstamping. Assuming the DOJ concludes the technology is viable, that would then trigger the restriction prohibiting California licensed firearm dealers from selling or transferring any pistol that is not equipped with microstamping on or after January 1, 2028. SB 452 would also create a process by which manufacturers could have their pistols modified to be equipped with microstamping through a DOJ-certified process (likely voiding any warranty), but this will require additional guidance from DOJ in the form of regulations that have yet to be promulgated.
The ultimate outcome of the CRPA’s Boland v. Bonta lawsuit could serve as a basis to enjoining SB 452 just as CRPA enjoined California’s microstamping requirement when it was part of the handgun roster.
Manufacturers Can Get Some New Models on the Roster NOW!
Aside from microstamping no longer being a requirement, the remainder of the UHA’s requirements for admitting a semiautomatic pistol to be added to the roster are unchanged for now. Manufacturers can still submit cosmetically different versions of models already on the roster pursuant to the usual processes, and manufacturers that want to get a new semiautomatic centerfire handgun on the roster must still meet two of the operative feature requirements (a positive manually operative safety feature, CLI, and MDM) and satisfy the drop-safety and firing reliability test. (See California Penal Code § 31910).
Thanks to the Boland suit, however, microstamping is no longer required on either centerfire or rimfire semiautomatic handguns.
Taking advantage of this, manufacturers are adding firearms right now! See the list here: https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/certified-handguns/recently-added
In speaking with the operators of the testing labs that certify handguns for sale, we have been informed that multiple other manufacturers have submitted pistols for drop safety and firing reliability testing. This is a direct result of the battle that CRPA is fighting for manufacturers.
Help CRPA Strike Down the UHA For Good
While the appeals are pending in the Ninth Circuit, CRPA is still hard at work in the trial court. A Motion for Summary Judgment has been filed, asking the district court to enjoin the entire Unsafe Handgun Act. We sought this relief in our Complaint but narrowed the relief we sought in the Motion for Preliminary Injunction. The Motion for Summary Judgment requires extensive and laborious brief drafting, paying expert witnesses, oral argument preparation, and likely appeal.
CRPA is asking manufacturers to unite behind this lawsuit and defeat the California roster once and for all! NSSF is helping, and we thank them for their support. But CRPA would greatly appreciate additional support from all industry stakeholders who stand to benefit from CRPA’s ongoing efforts in this and our other 2A lawsuits that seek to strike down the semi-auto ban, the law that restricts ammunition purchases, and the standard capacity magazine ban, among others.
The easiest way to do this is to purchase an ad in the CRPA Firing Line magazine. That will offset magazine production costs, and those funds can then be used for litigation instead. This may not seem like a lot to most, but the magazine is a big expense each year. Covering those expenses opens up funding for us to fight back and gives manufacturers a chance to talk directly to CRPA members.
For more information, email Maria Saglietto in our Development Department at email@example.com and visit CRPA’s website at www.CRPA.org. Maria can also share additional ways that you can help. And be sure to subscribe to CRPA email alerts to stay informed on the latest developments. Thank you for your consideration.
President & General Counsel
California Rifle & Pistol Association