Gun Rights Group Sues to End California’s 10-Day ‘Cooling Off’ Period for Firearms Purchases

Gun Rights
Man holds handgun
A man holds a handgun at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Houston in 2022. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare

The Firearms Policy Coalition, which has frequently challenged California’s gun violence laws, announced Tuesday it has filed suit in federal court in San Diego to end the state’s 10-day waiting period on firearms purchases.

The lawsuit argues that if quick checks of state and federal databases “return no records showing that an applicant is prohibited from possessing arms” then an immediate sale should be allowed.

“Enforcement of the waiting period laws prevents law-abiding people from taking possession of lawfully acquired firearms for immediate self-defense,” the suit argues. “This relegates the right to keep and bear arms to second-class status.”

The lawsuit seeks to remove a “cooling off” period intended to prevent impulsive acts of violence, arguing that gun violence is a “general societal problem” and there is no historical precedent prior to the 20th Century for waiting periods.

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The plaintiffs include a number of San Diego County residents, two North County gun stores and the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee.

The lawsuit also hints at the possibility of permitting online sales of firearms to ensure citizens can more easily obtain guns for “immediate self-defense.”

“If firearms and ammunition could be purchased online in California like other constitutionally protected artifacts, such as paper, pens, ink, and technology products that facilitate speech, then individuals could simply purchase what they need and have the items delivered to their doorsteps,” according to the suit.

California isn’t alone in having a waiting period. Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and Rhode Island have waiting periods for all gun purchases; Maryland and New Jersey have waiting periods for handguns; and Minnesota and Washington have waiting periods for assault rifles.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “waiting periods create an important ‘cooling off’ period that can help prevent impulsive acts of gun violence, including gun homicides and suicides.”

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta’s office said officials “have received the complaint and are reviewing it.”

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