SAN FRANCISCO, CA (December 20, 2018) — Attorneys for two individual California residents and five constitutional rights advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the State’s laws and policies that, they claim, prevent people from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Named defendants in the lawsuit include Attorney General Xavier Becerra, DOJ Bureau of Firearms Chief Martin Horan, and Deputy Attorney General Robert Wilson. A copy of the case filings can be found at www.firearmspolicy.org/linton.
Plaintiffs Chad Linton and Paul McKinley Stewart alleged that they had been convicted of non-violent felonies in other states, decades ago, and have since had those felony convictions set aside or vacated. Furthermore, the courts in the States of Washington and Arizona also and specifically restored to them their right to purchase and possess firearms. However, the judgments of those other state courts fell on deaf ears, when it came to restoring their right to purchase and keep firearms in California. Attorney General Becerra's Department of Justice, which processes firearm transactions, denied their firearm purchases, even though it was aware of the Washington and Arizona court orders.
The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California, asks, “In their zeal to prohibit as many citizens from owning firearms as possible, may this State, [California Attorney General Xavier Becerra], and those responsible for the enforcement of California’s firearms laws and policies, ignore the judgments and pronouncements of the courts of other states because they do not prefer the policy outcome?”
“The only honest, constitutionally-grounded answer to these questions must be a resounding ‘no’,” the plaintiffs say.
The court filing says that California “has no constitutionally-permissible interest in depriving individuals of their right to own, possess, and bear firearms for all lawful purposes, including self-defense in their homes, when any underlying convictions were remote, non-violent in nature, and adjudged to have been vacated or set aside in those other jurisdictions,” claiming that this violates their rights secured by the Second Amendment.
The plaintiffs are also claiming violations of other provisions of the Constitution that provide for “full faith and credit” be given to other state judgments, and that all citizens enjoy the privileges and immunities of every other state. The plaintiffs claim that these clauses of the Constitution do not permit state officials here to deprive people permanently of the right to keep and bear arms, when the courts of other states have specifically set aside or vacated those felonies, and restored their civil rights to them.
“The State doesn’t get to pick and choose which judgments of other states it will honor, and which it will ignore, because it doesn’t approve of firearms ownership,” said plaintiffs' attorney George M. Lee, who is handling the case. “Granting full faith and credit to other court judgments is part of the bargain of being one of these United States,” he added. The complaint cites court cases which held that there is no public policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorney George M. Lee of San Francisco litigation firm Seiler Epstein Ziegler & Applegate LLP. The lawsuit is backed by Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), The Calguns Foundation (CGF), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and Madison Society Foundation (MSF), also institutional plaintiffs in the case.
Anyone who is similarly affected by California’s laws and policies should contact the FPC/FPF Legal Action Hotline at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/hotline or (855) 252-4510 (available 24/7/365) as soon as possible.
Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The Calguns Foundation (www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves its members, supporters, and the public through educational, cultural, and judicial efforts to advance Second Amendment and related civil rights.
Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.
Madison Society Foundation (www.madison-society.org) is a 501(c)(3) grassroots nonprofit based in California. It promotes and preserves the purposes of the Constitution of the United States, in particular the right to keep and bear arms. MSF provides the general public and its members with education and training on this important right.