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Newsletter: California's Gun Laws Thrust Back Into the Spotlight


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A California gun ban was struck down this week while another one is inching closer to legal jeopardy.

The Ninth Circuit found the state's ban on adults under 21 buying centerfire semiautomatic rifles is unconstitutional. It said the blanket ban violated the Second Amendment even as it upheld the state's leakier age restriction on all rifles and shotguns.

At the same time the rifle ban was being struck down, California was limiting what handguns can be legally purchased in the state. It removed the popular H&K USP lineup from its "safe handgun" roster. This is far from the first time the state has winnowed down the list.

Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman examines how the move tempts federal courts to intervene once again.

Gun and ammo taxes do more than most people realize for federal conservation efforts. This week we got news they topped $15 billion in contributions to a wildlife fund, with about $1 billion of that coming in the last year alone.

The NRA's upcoming Annual Meeting just got a lot more interesting. Not only is former-president Donald Trump (R.) speaking at the event, but former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West announced he will challenge Wayne LaPierre in the leadership election at the same event. The group's first annual meeting since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic is shaping up to be just as explosive as the eventful one it held just before the virus hit in 2019.

(West will be on next week's podcast to discuss his run against LaPierre. So, make sure you pick up a membership today to get early access to that exclusive interview in the members' newsletter on Sunday!)

Plus, Lara Smith joined this week's podcast to talk about The Liberal Gun Club's unique, stereotype-defying place in the gun-owning community.

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Ninth Circuit Rules California’s Under-21 Rifle Ban Unconstitutional
By Stephen Gutowski

California can’t keep 18-to-20-year-olds from buying centerfire semiautomatic rifles.

That’s the ruling from a panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a 2-1 vote, the panel found the prohibition was too broad to be a “reasonable fit” for accomplishing the state’s goal of reducing gun violence. Writing for the majority, Trump-appointed judge Ryan D. Nelson said California’s ban violated the Second Amendment.

“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” he 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.”

Click here to continue reading.

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California Suddenly Removes All Models of Popular Pistol from State Roster
By Jake Fogleman

Already faced with a restricted supply due to state law, California residents will see their options for legal handguns diminish yet again.

The California Department of Justice announced on Friday that all pistols in the USP line from popular gunmaker Heckler & Koch (H&K) were removed from the state’s approved handgun roster. As a result, the pistols “may no longer be sold, offered for sale, or manufactured” in the state.

“On May 6, 2022, the Heckler & Koch USP9 V1, USP40 V1, Compact USP45 V1, Compact USP40 V1, USP 40 Expert V9, USP 45 Expert V1, USP40C-LEM, USP Compact 9 Stainless V1, USP Compact 45 Stainless V1, USP Compact 40 Stainless V1, and USP 45 Elite handguns were removed from the Roster of Certified Handguns pursuant to California Code of Regulations, title 11, section 4070(c),” a California DOJ bulletin disseminated to licensed gun dealers in the state reads. “Any further questions should be directed to Heckler & Koch.”

Click here to get the full story.

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Analysis: Is California’s Handgun Roster on a Collision Course with the Federal Courts? [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

The Golden State continues to tempt judicial fate with the administration of its handgun roster law. Before too long, it could wind up costing them in court.

Last Friday, the California Department of Justice announced it is removing all previously approved models of the popular Heckler and Koch (H&K) USP pistols from its handgun roster. It did so without warning or elaboration on the rationale behind the decision.

Gun owners were simply left to speculate as to why a well-established gun maker’s popular handgun, used safely across the country and around the world, could no longer legally be sold in the country’s most populous state.

While this latest move was unexpected, it was not an aberration.

If you’re a Reload member, click here to read the entire article. If not, consider buying a subscription to get access to this and hundreds of other exclusive posts.

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Allen West to Challenge Wayne LaPierre in NRA Election
By Stephen Gutowski

Wayne LaPierre will face a new challenger to lead the NRA.

Allen West announced on Monday he will challenge LaPierre to become executive vice president. West said he would accept the nomination offered up by dissident current and former NRA board members looking to replace LaPierre. He said he is running to “restore the honor, integrity, and character” of the NRA.

“It is with sincere humility that I have consented to my nomination to be Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association,” West said in a statement.

Click here to get the full scoop.

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Gun Tax Revenue for Conservation Efforts Tops $15 Billion
By Ben Marquis

Taxes on firearms and ammunition sales have raised $15 billion for a special trust fund that conserves and restores natural habitats for the nation’s wide array of wildlife.

That is according to a Thursday press release from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association that represents the nation’s firearms industry. The number represents a new milestone for the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, which gets its funding primarily from gun excise taxes.

“This is an achievement for which all in the firearm and ammunition industry are proud,” Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President, said in the statement. “This historic milestone is indicative of the value this industry places on the conservation of wildlife and the habitats in which they thrive.”

Click here to read more.

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Podcast: Lara Smith On the Liberal Gun Club’s Mission
By Stephen Gutowski

Lara Smith joins the show this week. She’s the national spokesperson for a stereotype-defying group: The Liberal Gun Club.

Smith talks at length about the group’s philosophy. Rather than focusing on gun bans or restrictions, they believe in addressing the root causes of violence. They lobby against strict new gun-control laws and for alternative approaches to solving gun violence.

She said the group has grown substantially over the past two years as the number of new gun owners has increased, especially those from demographics that skew more liberal. Smith argued that trend will impact not just her group but American politics at large. As the group grows, they expect their unique identity and approach will make them particularly influential with Democrats other gun-rights groups have little sway over.

You can read more about the podcast here, listen on your favorite podcasting app, or watch it on our YouTube channel.

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Analysis: When Local Gun Control Isn’t So Local [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

The state of Colorado made history last year when it became the first state in the country to repeal its decades-old firearms preemption statute. The move freed up cities and counties to pass gun legislation as they see fit, provided the laws were not more permissive than those passed at the state level.

The move was touted by Governor Jared Polis (D.), who signed the bill last June, as a victory for “local control” over the issue. But new details have come to light as municipalities have begun to take advantage of the wide latitude granted to them on guns without a preemption statute. They suggest a regional, rather than local, gun-control push is taking place behind the scenes.

If you’re a Reload member, click here to read full analysis. Otherwise, please consider joining today to get access.

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