California's slow-motion ban on modern semi-auto handguns available to sale for consumers was ruled unconstitutional in a federal court on Monday. 

In the case of Boland v. Bonta, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney this week granted a preliminary injunction preventing the state from asking what some have deemed to be the impossible: that new handguns be certified for sale to the public. The root of the problem is California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, which dates to 2001, and the more recent demand that semi-autos added to the list include not only a chamber load indicator and a magazine disconnect mechanism but also a microstamping feature – which no gun in current production contains. 

"The microstamping provision requires handguns to have a particular feature that is simply not commercially available or even feasible to implement on a mass scale," Carney’s order reads. 

The judge, appointed in 2003 by President George W. Bush, pointed to contradictions by California officials that allow police to buy and use guns not on the roster of "safe" firearms while the public cannot.

Of note, all 4th and 5th generation Glocks are restricted to "LE sales only" at retail, as are SIG P320s and P365s, among other popular self-defense handguns introduced in the past decade. Most models on the list aren't optics-ready, something that is now commonly available to buyers in the rest of the country. In a very real effect, the roster is frozen in time at around 2014, and as legacy handguns that are on the list drop out of production, its content is melting away. 

And it isn't just the fool's errand of microstamping that's the problem. Carney pointed out that very few firearms incorporate both a chamber load indicator and a magazine disconnect mechanism. 

"If CLIs and MDMs truly increased the overall safety of a firearm, law enforcement surely would use them," said Carney, noting only 32 of the 832 firearms currently authorized for purchase by consumers in the state have those features. "But they do not. Instead, they choose to use 'newer, improved and safer generations of handguns' that are Off-Roster." 

In the conclusion of his ruling, Carney wrote, "Californians have the constitutional right to acquire and use state-of-the-art handguns to protect themselves. They should not be forced to settle for decade-old models of handguns to ensure that they remain safe inside or outside the home. But unfortunately, the UHA’s CLI, MDM, and microstamping requirements do exactly that." 

Saying that the requirements violate the Second Amendment without the government being able to back up the UHA with "any well-established historical analogues," Carney granted the motion to halt the practices. 

"This order is a victory for lawful gun ownership in California," said Lawrence G. Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation Senior Vice President and General Counsel. "For too long, the Second Amendment has been significantly infringed upon by elected officials who have taken every opportunity to put roadblocks in front of law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights." 

For now, Carney's order is on ice for two weeks to allow the state to either remove the practices or seek a further appeal. California Attorney General Rob Bonta seems to be opting for the latter. 

"We will continue to lead efforts to advance and defend California’s gun safety laws," Bonta said Monday. "As we move forward to determine next steps in this case, Californians should know that this injunction has not gone into effect and that California’s important gun safety requirements related to the Unsafe Handgun Act remain in effect."

Chuck Michel, the attorney behind the case, backed by the NRA-affiliated California Rifle & Pistol Association,, talks about this week's ruling in the below video.



One of the plaintiffs in the case is popular guntuber Reno May, who has an update on the litigation in the below video.


Banner image: A G47, a fifth-generation Glock that is not on California's roster of "safe" handguns but is nonetheless the primary sidearm of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the largest federal law enforcement agency inside the Department of Homeland Security. (Photo: Chris Eger/

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