BELLEVUE, WA — The Second Amendment Foundation today filed suit in federal district court seeking to have federal and state laws preventing persons who, at one time in their lives, were subject to a mental health “hold” on the exercise of their Second Amendment rights overturned on the grounds that the way those laws and regulations are enforced are in violation of the Constitution.
The lawsuit is asking the court to declare that a section of federal law governing this issue, along with all derivative regulations and all laws, policies and procedures violate the Second Amendment, and the plaintiffs’ due process rights under the Fifth and/or Fourteenth amendments. It was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
SAF is joined by several California residents who are filing either as “Jane Roe” or “John Doe” to protect their identities. Named as defendants in their official capacity in this case are acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the Department of Justice, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Plaintiffs are represented by noted California civil rights attorney Donald Kilmer.
“We’re challenging the policies, practices and procedures of either or both the U.S. and California governments, and the way they interpret and implement these laws and regulations,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Specifically, under California law, un-adjudicated mental health holds require that firearm purchases must be denied, even though such holds have no federal consequences. In California, a prospective gun purchaser must wait for five years after such a hold has occurred, or they may apply for relief under state statute.”
Several of the plaintiffs have actually had full adversarial hearings under California law to restore their rights and Superior Court judges have granted their petitions. Yet they are still being denied when they try to exercise their Second Amendment rights. The lawsuit notes that there are several theories for these constitutional violations, the most being bureaucratic inertia and the most sinister being a hostility to the exercise of Second Amendment rights by “government actors.”
“Our lawsuit is asking for injunctive and declaratory relief,” Gottlieb said. “This is a situation that begs the court’s attention and should not be allowed to continue.”