Court: California C&R collectors exempt from handgun rationing

California’s 3rd District Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that holders of an inexpensive federal license to collect “curio and relic” firearms are not bound by the state’s once-a-month handgun purchase limit.

The ruling reversed a Sacramento Superior Court decision and held that the California Department of Justice’s interpretation of state law was flawed when it came to those with a C&R type federal firearms license. The $30 three-year license allows collectors to buy some old and rare guns without going into the business of selling firearms. This week’s ruling holds that those with such a license can purchase more than one non-curio or relic handgun in a 30-day period.

The DOJ policy was challenged in 2014 by two licensed firearms collectors, who also had Certificates of Eligibility issued by the state, arguing the law allowed a specific carve-out for licensed collectors. In their unanimous decision, the appellate court agreed and reversed a lower court’s ruling against the collectors and returned it “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

The case was supported by a pair of California-based gun right’s groups, The Calguns Foundation and the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees. Brandon Combs, executive director for Calguns, told the case was a big win, especially in light of recent changes in gun and ammo laws in the state.

“This case is probably more important now than when we filed it,” Combs said. “With the DOJ playing games with so many other regulations, this published opinion is a citable precedent that the DOJ must follow the rules and stay in their lane.”

In December 2017, the ATF listed 4,521 active C&R collectors in California and 54,826 nationwide. No other state had more.

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