On August 26, attorneys for the National Rifle Association (NRA), California Rifle & Pistol Association Foundation (CRPA Foundation), Herb Bauer’s Sporting Goods, and individual Fresno residents and firearm owners have filed a lawsuit challenging the "fees” the California Department of Justice ("DOJ”) imposes on firearm purchasers. The lawsuit, Bauer v. Harris
, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (Fresno), alleges that the excessive "fees” being charged by DOJ to purchase a gun create an unconstitutional infringement on the exercise of rights protected under the Second Amendment. A copy of the Complaint is available HERE
Over the years the fees imposed on firearms purchasers have gone up dramatically, despite the fact that technological advances have caused the cost of doing background checks on gun purchasers to go down. A multi-million dollar surplus has built up. But rather than reduce the fees, the state has instead sought to continually expand the programs that the money can be used for. The lawsuit alleges that the DOJ illegally uses the revenues from the mandatory "fees” for general law enforcement activities that are completely unrelated to the valid regulation of lawful firearm purchases, and that DOJ is illegally overcharging gun buyers. In doing so, DOJ places an unconstitutional precondition on the exercise of fundamental Second Amendment rights in California. Essentially, the state is unconstitutionally funding general police work unrelated to lawful firearm purchases off the backs of law abiding gun owners.
The lawsuit also alleges that DOJ’s imposition of the fees are not really "fees” at all under California law, but are actually disguised taxes that are invalid and unenforceable since they were not adopted by the Legislature by a two-thirds vote. Plaintiffs are asking that the statutes authorizing the "taxes” be declared void.