(CN) - A California law requiring a gun purchaser to wait 10 days before he can take possession of the firearm may be unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled.
The state contended the law reduces gun violence by imposing a "cooling off period" for people who impulsively buy a firearm to commit a crime of passion. It also gives law enforcement time to conduct a thorough background check.
But plaintiffs claimed that the law forces people who may need a firearm for self-defense to wait 10 days, burdening their Second Amendment rights.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii sided with the non-profit plaintiff, The Calguns Foundation, and denied California Attorney General Kamala Harris's motion for summary judgment.
He said the state failed to show that "the law is effective either in reducing gun violence or in keeping firearms out of the hands of unqualified purchasers."
While Harris claimed that the law is only a minor burden on gun owners, plaintiffs correctly point out that this is an admission that the law burdens constitutionally protected rights, the judgment says.
The law "prohibits every person who purchases a firearm from taking possession of that firearm for a minimum of 10 days. That is, there is a period of at least 10 days in which California prohibits every person from exercising the right to keep and bear a firearm. There can be no question that actual possession of a firearm is a necessary prerequisite to exercising the right keep and bear arms," Ishii said.
Harris presented no evidence why a full 10 days was necessary to complete a background check, the judge said.
Furthermore, "as applied to individuals who already own a gun, the Court has great difficulty envisioning how the 'cooling off' rationale could pass the appropriate level of scrutiny. If an individual already possess a firearm, then nothing about this rationale would prevent that individual from acting on a sudden impulse to commit gun violence with the gun already in his or her possession," Ishii added.
"The fact that a federal judge saw these laws for what they are - baseless restraints on the exercise of a fundamental civil right - is monumental," Gene Hoffman, Chairman of The Calguns Foundation, said in a written statement "California's waiting period laws for those who own guns is not constitutional and this order really underlines the point."
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