Recovered weapons are displayed near the scene of the police confrontation with assailants after the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting.
A coalition including the National Rifle Assn. on Thursday filed a second lawsuit challenging California’s new gun laws, this time arguing a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines is unconstitutional.
NRA attorneys representing the California Rifle and Pistol Assn., the group’s state affiliate, filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Diego, maintaining that the law banning possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition violates the due process and takings clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
“Legislators in California routinely enact laws that only affect the law-abiding and do nothing to enhance public safety,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “This lawsuit, and others that will follow, is an effort to ensure the rights of law-abiding gun owners are respected in California.”
Last month, the NRA and affiliated groups filed a lawsuit challenging another new law that bans the sale of semiautomatic rifles with bullet buttons that allow, with a tool, the removal and replacement of the magazine.
The new gun laws were approved last year by the Legislature and governor in response to the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting. Voters in November approved a ban on the magazines when they passed Proposition 63.
The lawsuit cites a section of the Constitution that says the government shall not take private property without just compensation. It also argued that, because the magazines have been purchased legally for years, it is a violation of due process to now take them without the owner having recourse.
“Banning magazines over 10 rounds is no more likely to reduce criminal abuse of guns than banning high horsepower engines is likely to reduce criminal abuse of automobiles,” the lawsuit says.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the leading backer of Proposition 63, said the legal challenge would fail.
"The people of California have already spoken loudly and they resoundingly rejected the NRA’s deceitful agenda. And federal courts have already spoken, in favor of public safety by restricting large capacity magazines," Newsom said.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) is working on climate legislation.
For most of the debate in Sacramento over extending California’s cap-and-trade program, the goal has been reaching a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature to get the job done.
That’s the target set by Gov. Jerry Brown and the threshold that nonpartisan legislative analysts believe would insulate the program from legal challenges.
However, there’s increasing interest among some key lawmakers in requiring only a majority vote. That would lower the political hurdles to reaching an agreement but leave one of the state’s most important efforts on climate change vulnerable to lawsuits.
The issue was raised again this week by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), one of the lawmakers working on the issue. A recent state appeals court decision suggests “we only need 41 votes [in the 80-member Assembly] to continue with cap and trade,” she said during a Wednesday committee hearing.
It’s a controversial stance shared by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) but one that concerns Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). The debate over how many votes are needed is a reminder that the future of cap and trade, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions, is closely tied to California’s intricate rules on taxes.
Gov. Jerry Brown wants a two-thirds vote to extend cap and trade, and he wants it next month.
The program wasn’t launched with the two-thirds legislative vote required by Proposition 13 to raise new revenue, and business groups have spent years accusing the state of enacting an unconstitutional tax.
A state appeals court rejected that argument last month. Supporters hope the decision may be broad enough to protect cap and trade from future lawsuits stemming from Proposition 26, a more recent ballot initiative that further tightened tax rules.
An appeal is pending before the California Supreme Court, and some environmental advocates fear years of litigation that could harm the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Legal uncertainty can act as a real barrier if it’s not resolved," said Alex Jackson, a San Francisco-based lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Figuring out the next move is a balancing act. Although it’s widely acknowledged that getting a two-thirds vote would be better for cap and trade’s future, it’s more difficult coming so soon after a tight vote to raise gas taxes for road repairs.
That deal was reached only after Brown and legislative leaders cut side deals to win over key lawmakers with nearly $1 billion in funding for projects in their districts.
Deciding whether to push for a two-thirds vote is “going to be a risk-reward calculation,” according to a source with knowledge of the deliberations.
The state has put out new rules for testing marijuana planned for medical use.
With businesses expected to get state licenses in January to sell marijuana in California, the top regulator said Thursday that they will be given up to six months to comply with a requirement the pot be thoroughly tested by a licensed laboratory.
State pot czar Lori Ajax said it may take months for enough testing labs to be properly screened and licensed to handle the supply of marijuana expected to be sold in California starting next year. In addition, many existing medical marijuana dispensaries will have untested supplies when licensing begins, she said.
As a result, dispensaries and shops that can’t get testing that complies with state standards will be allowed to continue selling products for up to six months as long as they are labeled untested, Ajax said during a conference on marijuana sponsored by Capitol Weekly in Sacramento.
“Day one we are not going to have all the testing labs licensed at once, and they are going to need time to get all their testing procedures in place to test under the very stringent requirements we have in the regulations,” Ajax said.
In addition, she said some testing labs will have to be issued provisional licenses to operate while they go through an 18-month process of being certified by a joint technical committee of the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission.
“We don’t want everything to come to a screeching halt when we start issuing [sales] licenses,” Ajax said. “We want to make sure that supply chain still flows.’’
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks to California Newspaper Publishers Assn. members in Santa Monica on Thursday morning. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times) Detectives last month seized roughly 40 pounds of marijuana, approximately 181 cans of butane, three large tubes used for extraction and about 2 ounces of "honey oil" from a Glendale home. A cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix.