Judge voids California laws requiring background checks to buy ammunition

(Reuters) -A federal judge has blocked California from enforcing state laws requiring people to undergo background checks when they buy ammunition, calling them unconstitutional.

In a decision made public on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez in San Diego said the laws “have no historical pedigree” and violate the Second Amendment’s right for citizens to keep and bear arms.

Benitez, who was appointed to the bench by Republican President George W. Bush, has issued a series of rulings over the years in favor of gun rights advocates.

California voters in 2016 had approved a ballot measure requiring gun owners to pay $50 for a four-year ammunition permit. Legislators later amended the measure to require automated background checks for each ammunition purchase.

Benitez had blocked the background checks requirement in April 2020.

A federal appeals court asked him to revisit that ruling following the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring that firearms restrictions be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The offices of California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta, which supported the background checks, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New YorkEditing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)

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