BELLEVUE, WA – A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the California Department of Justice and Attorney General Xavier Becerra over the state’s failure and refusal to establish a properly functioning internet-based firearms registration system that was mandated by law.
U.S. District Judge Morrison England, Jr., a George Bush appointee, denied the motion, noting in his 10-page ruling that, “the Supreme Court specifically recognized that a violation of procedural due process occurs when ‘it is the state system itself that destroys a complainant’s property interest, by operation of law,’ whether the state’s action “is taken through negligence, maliciousness or otherwise.”
“We said at the start of this legal action and we still maintain that the state’s system was like a bad version of ‘Catch-22’,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The government required registration by a certain deadline, but the online registration failed and people couldn’t register. It’s simply not acceptable when the government mandates something and then doesn’t provide the tools for the public to comply, making them criminally liable and subject to firearms confiscation.”
Judge England noted in his ruling, “While Defendants appear to blame the individual Plaintiffs for waiting until the last minute to attempt to register their firearms (seven waited until the last two days of the online registration period), the fact that Defendants’ website used a dramatic ‘countdown clock’ showing the number of weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds elapsing until the deadline at least arguably supported a belief that registrations could be both processed and accepted ‘until literally the last second of the registration period.’ Particularly when coupled with the documented systemic failures outlined above, the countdown clock also supports an inference of deliberate indifference.
SAF is joined in the case by the Calguns Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Madison Society Foundation and seven individual plaintiffs.
“Attorney General Becerra and his DOJ had one job to do: Provide a functional system for gun owners to use in registering their eligible firearms,” added Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs. “But instead of doing their jobs, they created a huge new mess for law enforcement and put innocent people and lawfully-owned property at serious risk.”
“The state of California couldn’t even build a working system to respect gun owners’ rights,” noted Calguns Foundation Chairman Gene Hoffman.
The case, known as Sharp v. Becerra was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.