There’s a lot of gun news coming out of the nation’s most populous state this week.
Most important among them is the story of Lola Fitzgerald. She has been shooting skeet and trap since she was nine. Now, at 16, she’s an accomplished shooter looking to make the Olympic team. But a new California gun law is making that an even taller task than it already was.
Gun-rights activists are alright fighting to get her back into the game. I talk to one of them in a member-exclusive piece on why he believes the state is flooding the zone with new restrictions as a purposeful strategy to make each one harder to challenge.
Contributing Writer Jake Fogelman looks at a recent win for the state that provides some practical insight into how these fights could play out in its favor. But that doesn’t mean California is guaranteed to succeed with that strategy. In fact, it lost a different court case just this week. Contributing Editor Paul Crookston explains how that fight came to an end.
New York got in on the action with new restrictions this week too. Another county is now forcing gun stores to display warnings against buying the products they sell.
Gun-rights advocates were dealt two other losses in court this week as well. The bump stock ban was upheld in federal court once again, while Polymer80 was hit with a $4 million loss in D.C.
Plus, YouTuber Reno May joins the podcast to talk about his suit against California’s handgun roster.
The California Gun Law Dashing Young Female Champion’s Olympic Dream
By Stephen Gutowski
Lola Fitzerald wants to grow up to be like six-time Olympian Kim Rhode.
Rhode is one of the most accomplished Team USA athletes in history. She’s won two golds and one bronze medal in double trap shooting. She’s bagged another gold, a silver, and a bronze medal in skeet shooting. She was the first summer Olympian to medal at six consecutive games and the first Olympian to win on five different continents.
Lola has a long way to go to have a shot at matching those lofty heights. However, the 16-year-old is off to an excellent start. Like Rhode was growing up, Lola is one of the top youth shooters in California. On top of that, she’s become one of the country’s top ten female youth shooters and has been invited to several Olympic development camps.
“Lola’s got four All-American titles,” Jay Fitzgerald, Lola’s father, told The Reload. “She’s got three World Junior titles under her belt. She has been a four-time Ladies’ Skeet Champion here in California.”
But the promising young prospect’s Olympic dream may now be out of reach due to no fault of her own. A new gun law signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom (D.) on June 30th is wreaking havoc on youth shooting sports in the state. The law, AB 2571, was sold by Newsom as a ban on advertising guns to children that will “save lives.” Instead, its most immediate effect has been causing the closure of most California youth shooting leagues over fears they could face massive liability for violating the law.
Lola said the fallout has already started to harm her development as a competitive shooter, and she doesn’t think that’s fair.
“I think I have been wronged by this law,” she told The Reload. “I have very much been wronged.”
She said she’s effectively been shut out of the sport she loves.
“I’ve been cut off from all tournaments around the country,” Lola said. “I’m no longer allowed to see what the dates of tournaments are. I’m no longer allowed to input scores. And, frankly, some of the tournaments probably don’t want me to go anymore because of the risk.”
As California enacts a myriad of new gun restrictions, one gun-rights leader in the state sees the deluge as a strategy.
Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), told The Reload the collection of new gun laws is a deliberate attempt by Governor Gavin Newsom (D.) to overwhelm opponents. He said it was part of a “blue resistance” campaign against the new paradigm created by the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. Instead of passing laws to comply with the Court’s opinion, states like New York and California are flooding the zone with new restrictions that flout it.
“I think Newsom is on the warpath,” Michel told The Reload. “He’s just such a vindictive, sore loser. I mean, he’s passing stuff he couldn’t give two craps if it’s constitutional or not. He just doesn’t care about anything. He is passing everything to try and stretch us so thin we can’t keep up.”
If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, join today to support our reporting and get exclusive access to the piece!
California Forced to Roll Back Extended Waiting Period for Gun Sales
By Paul Crookston
A judge has ordered the California Department of Justice to stop delaying firearm transfers.
In 2020, the state’s DOJ expanded California’s 10-day waiting period for background checks to 30 days during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. That prompted an alliance of pro-gun groups to file suit against the state. San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on Wednesday, citing state law.
“A plain reading of the statute’s language shows that the Legislature added the three specific circumstances for which the Department may delay releasing firearms when background checks are not completed,” Meyer wrote. “These specified situations do not show the Legislature intended to provide the Department authority to delay release for any reason that background checks are not completed. Had the Legislature wished to create a broader allowance for a 30-day delay whenever the DOJ determined additional time is needed, it could have done so. It did not.”
New York Counties Begin Requiring Gun Stores to Post Warning Against Owning Guns
By Stephen Gutowski
Gun stores in multiple New York counties will now be forced to warn people against buying their products.
Albany County passed an ordinance on Monday requiring gun dealers to post a warning about the purported dangers of gun ownership. Those who don’t comply with the ordinance could face a $1,000 fine or up to 15 days in jail. The ordinance is nearly identical to one passed by Westchester County in June.
“Access to a weapon or firearm in the home significantly increases the risk of suicide, homicide, death during domestic disputes and unintentional deaths to children, household members and others,” the warning reads. “If you or a loved one is experiencing distress and/or depression, call the crisis prevention and response team at (914) 925-5959 or the National Suicide Hotline at 988.”
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Bump Stock Ban
By Jake Fogleman
A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled bump stocks are illegal machine guns.
The Court issued a new opinion on Tuesday upholding a lower court decision that found the ATF acted properly when it reclassified bump stocks as machine guns under existing federal firearms law.
“The central question on appeal is whether the Bureau had the statutory authority to interpret ‘machine gun’ to include bump stocks,” Circuit Judge Robert L. Wilkins wrote in his opinion on behalf of the court. “Employing the traditional tools of statutory interpretation, we find that the disputed rule is consistent with the best interpretation of ‘machine gun’ under the governing statutes.”
Polymer80 Hit With $4 Million Civil Penalty for D.C. Sales
By Jake Fogleman
The fight to crack down on so-called “ghost gun” distributors got a victory in court on Wednesday.
Polymer80, a Nevada-based unfinished firearm parts manufacturer, was found to have “falsely and misleadingly” advertised “illegal firearms” by a District of Columbia judge. As a result, the company has been permanently blocked from advertising and selling its products to D.C. residents and has been ordered to pay over $4 million in civil damages.
“Polymer80 violated District law by selling firearms to District consumers without the requisite licenses, and failing to comply with the series of restrictions and requirements the District imposes on licensees,” Judge Ebony Scott’s order reads. “Additionally, Polymer80’s firearms violated District law because the firearms were not registered and failed to have an identification number or serial number.”
Podcast: YouTuber Reno May on His Fight Against California’s Handgun Roster
By Stephen Gutowski
This week we’re taking a closer look at the latest lawsuit against California’s unique handgun restrictions.
So, who better to talk to than one of the plaintiffs in the case? That’s why I reached out to Reno May. He has joined the suit claiming California’s ban on “unsafe” handguns violates the Second Amendment.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogelman and I talk about the new ATF inspection controversy and how it gives insight into the new relationship between the agency and the industry.
Gun-rights advocates cheered justice Clarence Thomas’ landmark opinion in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, particularly as he dismantled the judicial test lower courts had commonly used to uphold many gun laws. The text and historical tradition standard Thomas offered in its stead was seen by most as a threat to most modern gun restrictions.
But a recent ruling out of a California federal court could temper that expectation, as it reveals how some lower courts might use the Bruen test to uphold even the youngest and most novel restrictions.
On Wednesday, a US District Court judge for the Northern District of California denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by the National Association for Gun Rights in its suit against San Jose’s recently adopted gun ownership tax and insurance mandate.
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.