Federal Court Upholds All Aspects of California’s Unsafe Handgun Act

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015


© IAN CURCIO PHOTOGRAPHY 2012www.iancurcio.comian@iancurcio.com

Chalk up another win for California’s common sense gun laws. Last week, US District Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that the state’s groundbreaking Unsafe Handgun Act (“UHA”) is constitutional, a major victory for gun safety proponents. The UHA, originally passed in 1999, requires all handguns sold in the state to meet rigorous safety standards, which reduce the number of “junk guns” on the market. All new handguns must pass firing and drop testing, utilize a ”chamber load” indicator, and incorporate microstamping technology—a unique code imprinted on a casing when a handgun is fired, which helps law enforcement solve gun crimes.

A number of individual gun owners and pro-gun organizations filed the lawsuit in 2009, arguing that the UHA interfered with their right to own any handgun, regardless of quality. In her decision, Judge Mueller pointed out that the UHA merely “imposes conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” which the US Supreme Court specifically identified as a “presumptively lawful” regulation in its landmark Heller decision. With this in mind, Judge Mueller found that the UHA “does not adversely impact the access to and sale of firearms” and forcefully concluded that “[t]his degree of regulation is negligible and does not burden plaintiffs’ rights under the Second Amendment.”

Plaintiffs have already filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, where the Law Center plans to file an amicus brief in support of the law. As Judge Mueller correctly found, the right to bear arms does not include the right to purchase poorly made, low-quality guns that do not meet common sense safety standards. We hope you’ll join us in the fight to defend the UHA, a key component of California’s intelligent approach to gun violence prevention. Smart gun laws like the UHA have helped decrease firearm homicide rates in California more than 64 percent since the mid-1990s, and positioned California as a model for other states when it comes to combating the public health crisis of gun violence in the United States.

2015 State Gun Law Trendwatch

Posted on Friday, February 27th, 2015


A key component of the work our legal experts do here at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is tracking and analyzing firearms legislation in all 50 states. As the 2015 legislative cycle kicks into gear, we’ve noticed several patterns. Our biweekly Gun Law Trendwatch rounds up and analyzes the positive legislative trends (such as bills that are being considered in a handful of states to require background checks for private sales), negative legislative trends (like a spate of campus carry bills), and a roundup of bills on the move. We hope you find Trendwatch useful in your legislative efforts this year.





Waiting Periods in Vermont

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

Vermont imposes no waiting period between the time of purchase and the actual physical transfer of a firearm.

See our Waiting Periods policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in Vermont

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

Vermont law requires all pawnbrokers and retail firearms dealers to keep a record book in which they record the sale of all handguns and the purchase of all second-hand handguns.1 The record must include the date of the transaction, the marks of identification on the firearm (including the manufacturer’s name, the caliber, model and manufacturer’s number of the firearm), and the name, address, birthplace, occupation, age, height, weight and the color of eyes and hair of the purchaser or seller.2 The purchaser or seller must sign his or her name to the record, and the pawnbroker or firearms dealer must preserve the record book for six years after the date of last entry and make it available for inspection by law enforcement.3

Vermont has no law requiring the reporting of sales of firearms to a state or local agency.

See our Retention of Firearm Sales & Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4006. []
  2. Id. []
  3. Id. []

Multiple Purchases & Sales of Firearms in Vermont

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

Vermont has no law restricting sales or purchases of multiple firearms.

See our Multiple Purchases / Sales of Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Mental Health Reporting in Vermont

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.

Vermont has no laws requiring the reporting of mental health information to NICS.

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Vermont Background Checks section and the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Vermont.

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []

Background Checks in Vermont

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Vermont is not a point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Vermont has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Vermont firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

Vermont does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary.

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Feb. 2, 2012). []

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Vermont

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

Vermont has no law requiring the removal of firearms from persons who have become prohibited from possessing them.

Dealer Regulations in New York

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

New York law requires those who engage “in the business of purchasing, selling, keeping for sale, loaning, leasing, or in any manner disposing of, any assault weapon, large capacity ammunition feeding device, pistol or revolver” to obtain a state license in order to conduct business.1 Applications must be submitted in the city or county where the business is located.2 Applicants go through the same background check process as those seeking to carry or possess handguns (see Licensing of Gun Owners in New York). New York does not require sellers of long guns only (rifles and shotguns) to obtain a state license.

A firearms dealer license must describe the premises for which it is issued, be valid in that location and be displayed prominently on the premises.3 A licensed dealer may conduct business temporarily at a gun show or event sponsored by any organization devoted to the collection, competitive use or other sporting use of firearms, however.4 A firearms dealer license is valid for up to three years from the date of issuance.5

For information about the New York law:

• Requiring a locking device to accompany the sale of a firearm, see Locking Devices in New York.

• Limiting sales of ammunition, see Ammunition Regulation in New York.

• Requiring federally licensed dealers to conduct background checks on firearm purchasers, see Background Checks in New York.

• Requiring dealers to maintain records of sales, see Retention of Sales / Background Check Records in New York.

• Involving dealers’ obligations regarding New York’s “Combined Ballistic Identification System,” see Microstamping/Ballistic Identification in New York.

• Applicable to both licensed and private firearm sellers, see Private Sales in New York.

  1. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 265.00(9), 400.00(2 []
  2. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(3). []
  3. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(7), (8). []
  4. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(8). []
  5. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(10). []

Waiting Periods in New York

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

Although there is no specific waiting period prior to purchase of a firearm in New York, all handgun purchasers must obtain a license to possess or carry a handgun, and such licenses may take up to six months to process (or longer, upon written notice to the applicant).1

See our Waiting Periods policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(4-a). []