Handgun Importer Fee in CA


November 29, 2008, 01:11 PM
Sorry if this has been discussed before - I did a search and didn't find anything post-Heller. I'm moving into California from Arizona (yeah, yeah, I know - :banghead:) CA considers me to be a "personal handgun importer" and requires me to fill out a "new resident handgun ownership report" and pay a $19 fee for EACH handgun I bring into the state. Since Heller affirms my individual right to own handguns, how is this $19 fee not infringing on that right? Seriously - what if I could not afford to pay this fee? What if I was dirt poor but had inherited a few pistols from my dad. CA says if I don't comply with the above, I can either sell the guns to CA law enforcement, or dispose of them before moving into the state. I am aware of the legality of permits being upheld for other fundamental rights, such as permits required for holding a rally or parade, but I don't believe those permits involved a fee. Has this been discussed? What are your guys' thoughts?

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Frank Ettin
November 29, 2008, 02:37 PM
First, we don't yet have a court decision incorporating the Second Amendment (although most of us are optimistic that it will be), so it has not yet been establihsed that the Second Amendment, and that the holding in Heller, applies to the states.

Assuming the Second Amendment gets incorporated, perhaps you would have a good argument on the basis of which to challenge the constitutionality of the California law. And there's even the possibility that the law is vulnerable on other grounds (impairing the right to travel). But until a court strikes it down, it is still the law; and if you ignore it, you can suffer the penalties called for. The law won't just go away by itself.

Since you are really moving, you have a practical problem. You could pay the $19 per handgun and fill out the forms, or you could decline to do so and risk prosecution. When you are prosecuted, you could defend on the basis of the unconstitutionality of the law. A constitutional challenge, through the trial court and intermediate appellate court levels will cost you (unless you can get third party funding) several hundred thousand up to, perhaps, a million or so dollars.

As to the merits of the case, I'm not sure. There is legal authority for the proposition that government can't tax the exercise of a constitutional right. But I'm not sure if there's any authority prohibiting what may amount to simply a user fee that covers the cost to the government of processing the associated paperwork. Residents pay a comparable fee when buying a gun. (And since residents pay a comparable fee, I don't think that this would be a good "right to travel" case.)

Bottom line is, IMHO, that testing this will cost a whole lot more than $19 per handgun, and it's not a slam dunk winner for our side.

November 29, 2008, 03:23 PM
If someone don't stand up and fight in Califonia they are going to be in serious trouble. I hope your moving for a good reason because it would take an act of God to get me there and I live in IL.

November 29, 2008, 06:19 PM
permits for prades do enovle fees... some times they are VERY, VERY large.

November 29, 2008, 08:32 PM
Why would anyone move here to PDSR California? I've been trying to get out for years...

November 29, 2008, 08:38 PM
here is a very good reason... I have a realtives that live in TX they are both nures, They make ~ 27/hr. This is after 10+ years of exp Nures here start at 32/ hour and with any type of exp that goes close to 50/ hr. Not to mention OT.

I guess thats why they rent a small apartment not far from me and spend 2 weeks a month working here, then going back to TX with thier Huge house on 5 arces that the payment is less then the rent for the 1 bed apartment here.

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