Attorneys for NRA and CRPA have filed a petition in the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) asking that Court to hear the case of Bauer v. Becerra. The Bauer case challenges California’s unconstitutional use of millions of dollars it has collected through overcharging law-abiding gun purchasers $19 for the cost that the California Department of Justice incurs to conduct a background check for a firearm transaction (also known as the Dealer Record of Sale or “DROS” fee).
The petition was filed as an appeal of a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld California’s use of DROS fees to fund the flawed Armed Prohibited Person System and other general law enforcement activities. But the DROS fee was intended to fund only the costs that DOJ incurs when conducting background checks. Over the years, technological advancements have dramatically reduced DOJ’s costs. Despite this, the $19 DROS fee was never reduced—generating a surplus of over $35 million!
The NRA and CRPA petition explains that the exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be conditioned on the payment of a special fee that is used to fund general law enforcement activities bearing no relation to the fee-payer’s own conduct. If the fee does, it is an illegal “poll tax.” Considering the 9th Circuit’s repeated history of refusing to uphold constitutional and Second Amendment rights, the case presents an ideal vehicle for SCOTUS to address the limits on governments imposing special fees as a condition of exercising the right to keep and bear arms.