A Clovis man is part of a lawsuit filed against the California Department of Justice by Second Amendment groups, which are arguing that an Internet-based system set up for the registration of assault weapons was “inaccessible” and “inoperable” as a July 1 deadline for the registration passed.
The lawsuit maintains that the system’s crash left many firearm owners out of compliance with state law “due to no fault of their own.” That constitutes a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s “Due Process” clause, the lawsuit argues, leaving the applicants subject to criminal penalties for not registering their firearms.
The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by Harry Sharp, who was joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Calguns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation, along with six other individuals, including the Clovis man, David Kuehl.
Named as defendants are Attorney General Xavier Becerra; Brent E. Orick, acting chief of the Bureau of Firearms; and Joe Dominic, chief of information systems for the DOJ. The lawsuit was filed in Shasta County, Sharp’s residence. Other plaintiffs are from the counties of Sacramento, Contra Costa, San Diego, and Los Angeles. They seek to require the DOJ to allow registration of their firearms after the July 1 deadline.
California began defining and regulating possession and sale of assault weapons in 1989 with the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act. In 2016, according to the lawsuit, Assembly Bill 1135 expanded the definition of an assault weapon to include firearms from which a fixed magazine could be readily removed, including those allowing easy removal of the magazine with the use of a tool, so-called “bullet button” weapons. The lawsuit states that as many as 5.1 million long guns may have been subject to registration by the July 1 deadline.
The DOJ set up a website with a “countdown clock” to the registration deadline and linked it to a page for firearm registration, which required the owner’s identification and photos of the weapon. But the lawsuit alleges the DOJ was aware that programmers needed to make the system work were instead shifted to other projects.
At the end of the deadline, 68,848 applicants were submitted, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that for many applicants, the system “timed out” during the submission process or crashed when a “submit” button was clicked.
The suit alleges that Kuehl, the Clovis man, was among those who received error messages when he attempted to submit his information on June 30.