California Court Holds That Regulations of Mail-Order “Handgun Ammunition” Are Unconstitutionally Vague

The order, issued Monday, came in Parker v. State; the opinion explaining the reasoning behind the order has apparently not been released. The enjoined provisions (here and here) banned mail-order ammunition sales of “handgun ammunition,” and required purchases of such ammunition to be registered and purchasers to be thumb-printed. “Handgun ammunition” was defined as “ammunition principally for use in pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 12001, notwithstanding that the ammunition may also be used in some rifles.”

The court apparently concluded that the definition was unconstitutionally vague. The lawsuit alleged that, “It is practically impossible, both for those subject to the law and for those who must enforce it, to determine whether any of the thousands of different types of ammunition cartridges that can be used in handguns are actually ‘principally for use in’ or used more often in, a handgun. The proportional usage of any given cartridge is impossible to determine, and in any event changes with market demands.”

Interestingly, the lead plaintiff is Sheriff of Tehama County.