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Ninth Circuit Panel Strikes Semi-Auto Rifle Ban For Young Adults In SAF Case

Second Amendment


On Wednesday, a three-judge panel for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California prohibition on sales of semiautomatic rifles to young adults in the 18-20-year-old range, remanding the case back to the district court for further proceedings in a win for the Second Amendment Foundation. The case is known as Jones v. Bonta.

SAF was joined in by the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., Firearms Policy Foundation, Calguns Foundation, Poway Weapons and Gear and PWG Range, North County Shooting Center, Inc, Beebe Family Arms and Munitions, and three private citizens including Matthew Jones for whom the case is named.

The majority opinion was written by Judge Ryan Nelson and joined by Judge Kenneth Lee, both Donald Trump appointees, and in part by Judge Sidney Stein from the Southern District of New York, a Bill Clinton appointee. Judge Stein also dissented in part.

Writing for the majority, Judge Nelson observed, “(T)he Second Amendment protects the right of young adults to keep and bear arms, which includes the right to purchase them.

The district court reasoned otherwise and held that the laws did not burden Second Amendment rights at all: that was legal error…(T)he district court erred by applying intermediate scrutiny, rather than strict scrutiny, to the semiautomatic centerfire rifle ban. And even under intermediate scrutiny, this ban likely violates the Second Amendment because it fails the ‘reasonable fit’ test.”

“We are delighted with the opinion,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The court majority rightly recognized that delaying the exercise of a right until age 21 does irreparable harm. It also applied strict scrutiny to the semi-auto ban.”

He noted this ruling could impact another case challenging a similar prohibition in Washington State, which is also part of the Ninth Circuit. There, the prohibition was adopted via a citizen initiative in 2018, and was challenged by SAF and the National Rifle Association.

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