East County News Service
September 17, 2019 (Santee) – A Santee man is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging California’s new gun law, Senate Bill 1100 signed into law last year, which bans the sale of long guns such as rifles to people under age 21.That state already had bans on minors purchasing hand guns, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The lawsuit recently filed in San Diego argues that adults over age 18 who are not convicted felons or mentally ill should have access to the full scope of the Second Amendment.
Matthew Jones of Santee, along with Thomas Furrh of Vista, both under age 21, are listed as plaintiffs, along with four gun advocate groups and three retail gun shops in San Diego County.
The four gun advocate groups include the CalgunsFoundation (CGF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) and Second Amendment Foundation (SAF). Retail gun shops include Poway Weapons and Gear, North County Shooting Center in San Marcos and Beebe Family Arms and Munitions in Fallbrook. The lawsuit was filed by John Dillon, associate attorney with the Carlsbad-based law firm of Gatzke Dillon and Ballance LLP.
“Once individuals turn 18, they are considered as adults in the eyes of the law,” said Dillon. “Therefore, law-abiding adults are entitled to fully exercise all of their fundamental rights, including their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for all lawful purposes, not just hunting or sport.
“We’re asking the court to rule the state’s law as an unconstitutional infringement so that law-abiding adults over the age of 18 but under the age of 21 can exercise their fundamental Second Amendment right to purchase and possess firearms. The state’s actions and policies to deny Californians their fundamental rights are unconstitutional and wrong.”
Defendants in the federal lawsuit are listed as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Martin Horan, director of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms.
Legislation to ban the sale of firearms to those under age 21 was introduced last year by State Senator Anthony Portantino, a La Canada Flintridge Democrat, in response to the February 2018 shooting deaths of 17 people at a Parkland, Fla. high school by a 19-year-old gunman.
The new gun law signed in September 2018 by former Gov. Jerry Brown took effect Jan. 1, 2019. It expanded previous restrictions that prohibited people under 21 from buying handguns. Military service members, law enforcement officers and licensed hunters are exempted from the law and can own firearms.
“I was determined to help California respond appropriately to the tragic events our country has recently faced on high school campuses,” Portantino said in a statement when the bill was signed. “I feel it is imperative that California leads when Washington refuses to act. No parent should have to worry that a gun gets in the wrong hands and commits a heinous and violent tragedy on our school campuses.”
Each year, nearly 2,900 children and teens (ages 0 to 19) are shot and killed, and nearly 15,600 are shot and injured—that’s an average of 51 American young people every day. Of those killed, 1,000 suicides. At least 405 school shootings occurred from 2013 to 2015 alone, and in many of those cases, the shooter was under 21, according to data compiled by Everytown Research.
Locally, mass school shootings at Granite Hills High School and Cleveland Elementary schools were committed by shooters under 21 with long guns.
But Dillon calls the measure “nothing more than a knee-jerk, political reaction to what happened in Florida,” referring to the Parkland, FL high school massacre, which he says “has nothing to do with California, or the plaintiffs in this case. The law is discriminatory and abuses California gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.”
Dillon said Californians who are at least 18 but not yet 21, who are not otherwise prohibited from purchasing firearms, and who were denied their right to purchase a firearm, are invited to contact him at www.firearmspolicy.org/hotline or (855) 252-4510.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found at www.firearmspolicy.org/jones.
“The Second Amendment fully applies to all non-prohibited adults, period,” said Gene Hoffman, chairman, CGF. “California cannot deny a fundamental, enumerated right to adults over the age of 18 that have no disqualifying criminal or mental health history.”
Firearms aren’t the only products regulated by age. California has long banned sales of cigarettes, and more recently legal marijuana products, to anyone under age 21, though there’s no constitutional protection for smoking or drug use.
“We’re going to court against this law because it clearly violates the Second Amendment rights of young adults,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder, executive VP, SAF. “When a citizen turns 18 years old in this country, he or she is considered a legal adult, free to exercise their rights under the Constitution, and that certainly should include the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. But this California law turns that concept on its ear, with very few exceptions, such as possessing a valid hunting license. Our individual plaintiffs do not hunt, and have no intention of pretending to be hunters, just to exercise their constitutional rights.”