Groups pile on in Supreme Court challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period

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Even if they already own a gun, Californians continue to have to wait 10 days to buy additional firearms, a matter now before the Supreme Court. (Photo: Jebb Harris/The Orange County Register/AP)

Several Second Amendment groups are joining a pair of California gun advocates in taking the challenge to the state’s mandatory waiting period to the nation’s high court.

The groups have filed three different friend of the court briefs this month encouraging the Supreme Court to grant review and overturn a ruling issued by the U.S. 9th Circuit last year which upheld the state’s 10-day waiting period for gun purchases.

The case involves plaintiffs Jeff Silvester and Brandon Combs, and is supported by the Calguns Foundation, of which Combs is the executive director, and Second Amendment Foundation. They argue the mandatory wait— if applied to those who already lawfully possessed a firearm registered in the state’s Automated Firearms System or had a concealed carry permit — is a violation of the Second Amendment.

The men originally filed suit against the state in 2011, arguing that California’s waiting period and the 18 exemptions to it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The state countered the elapsed time was a viable means of reducing suicides and murders.

A district court sided with the gun enthusiasts in 2014 but the 9th Circuit later reversed the lower court’s decision saying the waiting period was a “reasonable safety precaution for all purchasers of firearms,” even if they already had a gun or a permit.

Siding with the plaintiffs is the Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Madison Society Foundation and Gun Owners of California who last week filed a 22-page brief. Authored by attorney Raymond DiGuiseppe, a former California deputy attorney general, the filing says Supreme Court review is necessary “to reestablish the rule of law and halt the trend of judicial obstructionism” that is “jeopardizing” the protections of the Second Amendment. In doing so, it would give the Supreme Court a chance to reign in the 9th Circuit when it comes to the West Coast appellate’s interpretation of Second Amendment cases decided in the past by the justices.

A second brief, filed by Dr. John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center, and penned by attorney Douglas Applegate, argues the only question posed by the 9th Circuit in their decision last year was whether the 10-day waiting period was more effective than nothing, without taking alternatives into account.

Finally, the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, filed their own brief in support of the case, arguing the matter before the high court is straightforward and constitutionally significant.

“The case here is quite narrow, covering only the application of an arbitrary waiting period to people who already own guns,” said Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere for Cato. “The Court’s input, then, would not upset the diverse tapestry of gun laws that have developed across the country. Instead, it could help enable lower courts to competently move forward in developing Second Amendment jurisprudence.”

The case, Silvester v. Becerra, was distributed for conference to the justices in September, who requested a response from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on the matter earlier this month. California must file a response with the court by December.

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