MAPC Files Lawsuit Challenging Firearm Sales “Fees”
August 26, 2011 – Attorneys for the National Rifle Association (NRA), California Rifle & Pistol Association Foundation (CRPA Foundation), Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods, and individual Fresno residents and firearm owners have filed a lawsuit challenging the “fees” the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) imposes on firearm purchasers. The lawsuit, Bauer v. Harris, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (Fresno), alleges that the excessive “fees” being charged by DOJ to purchase a gun create an unconstitutional infringement on the exercise of rights protected under the Second Amendment. A copy of the Complaint will be viewable at www.calgunlaws.com
Over the years the fees imposed on firearms purchasers have gone up dramatically, despite the fact that technological advances have caused the cost of doing background checks on gun purchasers to go down. A multi-million dollar surplus has built up. But rather than reduce the fees, the state has instead sought to continually expand the programs that the money can be used for. The lawsuit alleges that the DOJ illegally uses the revenues from the mandatory “fees” for general law enforcement activities that are completely unrelated to the valid regulation of lawful firearm purchases, and that DOJ is illegally overcharging gun buyers. In doing so, DOJ places an unconstitutional precondition on the exercise of fundamental Second Amendment rights in California. Essentially, the state is unconstitutionally funding general police work unrelated to lawful firearm purchases off the backs of law abiding gun owners.
The lawsuit also alleges that DOJ’s imposition of the fees are not really “fees” at all under California law, but are actually disguised taxes that are invalid and unenforceable since they were not adopted by the Legislature by a 2/3rds vote. Plaintiffs are asking that the statutes authorizing the “taxes” be declared void.
The suit was prompted in part by pending Senate Bill 819 (Leno), which seeks to add yet another program that can be funded by the gun purchase fees to the already long list of programs being funded by fees imposed on gun buyers. Specifically, SB 819 would allow for funds from these “fees” to finance regulation of the “possession” of firearms, meaning prosecution of all gun possession crimes could be subsidized by law-abiding gun owners. If SB 819 becomes law, that would strengthen Plaintiffs’ lawsuit by making it even more obvious that the DROS “fees” violate the Second Amendment, and are actually illegal “taxes” under California law.
The lawsuit is being funded by the NRA / CRPA Foundation Legal Action Project (LAP). LAP is a joint venture between the Nation Rifle Association (NRA) and the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) to advance the rights of firearms owners in California. Through LAP, NRA/CRPA attorneys fight against ill-conceived gun control laws and ordinances, and educate state and local officials about available programs that are effective in reducing accidents and violence without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
To see a partial list of the Legal Action Project’s recent accomplishments, visicst www.crpafoundation.org To contribute to the NRA / CRPAF Legal Action Project (LAP) and support this and similar Second Amendment cases, visit www.crpafoundation.org or www.nraila.org. Please register at www.calgunlaws.com to receive updates on this and other litigation as it is made available.