Comparing the failure of California’s bullet button semi-auto registration system to “Catch 22,” four gun owners’ rights groups have filed suit against the state’s Department of Justice and Attorney General Xavier Becerra in an effort to prevent affected gun owners from being prosecuted because they were unable to comply with the law.
The lawsuit, filed by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Calguns Foundation (CGF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and three private citizens, seeks an injunction against the state DOJ “for failing and refusing to establish a properly functioning Internet-based firearms registration system.” Some might chuckle at the irony of gun rights groups taking court action to allow gun registration, but that would be a shallow look at the problem.
Owners of affected semi-auto firearms, classified as so-called “assault weapons” by the law, had until June 30 to register their firearms. But the online registration system known as the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) allegedly broke down during the final week.
The lawsuit notes that during the week of June 25-30, which was the statutory registration deadline, the CFARS system was inaccessible and inoperable on a variety of web browsers across the state. Many users who were able to initially log in and begin the process could not finish because the system crashed, obliterating all of their work. The CFARS system was substantially underfunded and understaffed from its inception, it was noted.
“It’s like a bad version of ‘Catch-22’,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of SAF. “The government required registration by the deadline, but the online registration failed and people couldn’t register. They’re required to obey the law, but the system broke down, making it impossible to obey the law. Now these people face the possibility of being prosecuted. We simply cannot abide that kind of incompetence.”
“Predictably the state of California wants to take guns away from the law abiding. In this instance they couldn’t even build a working system to respect gun owners’ rights,” explained CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman. “We simply want to allow those who want to comply with the law to have more time with a working registration system.”
The lawsuit was filed in Shasta County Superior Court. Becerra was named because he’s in charge at DOJ.
“Attorney General Xavier Becerra seems to care about everything but the constitution, the rule of law, and law-abiding California gun owners,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “If Becerra spent as much time doing his job as he does talking about his pet crusades against the federal government, hundreds of thousands of Californians would not be in legal jeopardy right now.”
SAF and its partners want the court to prevent DOJ from enforcing the law to allow individual plaintiffs and other citizens in the same situation to register their legally-possessed firearms through a “reliable and functional registration system.