FPC AND FPCAF WIN: California Judge Rules Against Unconstitutional Gun Ban Policy By: Firearms Policy Coalition

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SAN FRANCISCO (February 29, 2024) – Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and FPC Action Foundation (FPCAF) announced that the District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled against the state’s laws and policies that prevent peaceable people from exercising their Second Amendment protected rights that were fully restored after their non-violent felony convictions in other states were vacated and nullified. The Court determined California’s ban is unconstitutional and a violation of the Second Amendment’s protections. The Opinion in Linton v. Bonta can be viewed at FPCLegal.org.

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Plaintiffs Chad Linton, Paul McKinley Stewart, and Kendall Jones were convicted of non-violent felonies outside of California decades ago, and have since had those convictions set aside or vacated. Furthermore, the courts in the states in which they were convicted—Washington, Arizona, and Texas—restored their rights to purchase and possess firearms. Nevertheless, California still forbids them from exercising their Second Amendment protected rights.

“It is safe to say that California entrusted [plaintiff] Jones with the authority of a sworn peace officer, and with the special role of training other officers in the use of force, precisely because it deemed him to be a ‘law-abiding, responsible citizen,’” reads the Court’s Opinion. “The undisputed facts indicate that Linton and Stewart are also fairly described as law-abiding citizens. Linton is a veteran of the United States Navy with a clean criminal record for the past 37 years. Stewart has had a clean criminal record for the past 48 years. California simply turned a blind eye to these circumstances, and did not account for them in any meaningful way in its discussion of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

Moreover, the Court harshly criticized California’s failure to meet its burden of proving its law was constitutional: “California had every opportunity to present any historical evidence it believed would carry its burden. It chose not to do so.” The Court continued: “It also bears emphasis that this Court is not a helicopter parent. It is manifestly not the Court’s job to poke and prod litigants to live up to their burdens of proof.”

“This case exposes the hypocrisy of California’s treatment of those convicted of non-violent crimes,” said Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC Action Foundation’s Vice President and General Counsel, and counsel for FPC. “While California claims to be tolerant of those that have made mistakes in the past–that tolerance ends when it comes to those individuals wanting to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. Now, the state has no choice but to recognize the rights of peaceable people–including the Plaintiffs here.”

FPC and FPCAF are joined in this case by three individual FPC members, the California Gun Rights Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation, and the Madison Society Foundation.

Individuals who would like to join the FPC Grassroots Army and support important pro-rights lawsuits and programs like these can sign up at JoinFPC.org. Individuals and organizations wanting to support charitable efforts in support of the restoration of Second Amendment and other natural rights can also make a tax-deductible donation to the FPC Action Foundation. For more on FPC’s lawsuits and other pro-Second Amendment initiatives, visit FPCLegal.org and follow FPC on Instagram, X (Twitter), Facebook, YouTube.

Firearms Policy Coalition (firearmspolicy.org), a 501(c)4 nonprofit membership organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty, defend constitutional rights, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom. FPC’s efforts are focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and adjacent issues including freedom of speech, due process, unlawful searches and seizures, separation of powers, asset forfeitures, privacy, encryption, and limited government. The FPC team are next-generation advocates working to achieve the Organization’s strategic objectives through litigation, research, scholarly publications, amicus briefing, legislative and regulatory action, grassroots activism, education, outreach, and other programs.

FPC Law (FPCLaw.org) is the nation’s first and largest public interest legal team focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the leader in the Second Amendment litigation and research space.

FPC Action Foundation (FPCActionFoundation.org), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty through charitable legal action, public policy, education, and research programs.