On May 6, 2013, the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeals ruled that certain people convicted of violating California Penal Code section 242 (battery) are not prohibited from possessing firearms under the federal law that prohibits those with a conviction for a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” (MCDV) from possessing firearms. Shirey v. Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission, (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 1 [156 Cal.Rptr.3d 517].
The decision clarifies that thousands of Californians previously thought to be prohibited from possessing firearms are not prohibited after all.
The State of California sought review of the Shirey decision by the California Supreme Court. DOJ also sought to have the case depublished so that it would not have a binding effect on lower courts. Thankfully, the California Supreme Court denied both requests. Such a denial often indicates that the lower court’s analysis is correct and should remain binding precedent. The State may appeal this case to the United States Supreme Court, if they do, this case is unlikely to interest the high court.
As a result of this ruling, a person convicted of a misdemeanor 242 (and 243(e))1 should not be considered prohibited for a federal MCDV if the level of force used was minimal or the DOJ cannot determine what level of force was used. Nevertheless, we expect that DOJ will still continue to consider people prohibited from possessing firearms or delay their firearm transaction until the individual can prove otherwise.
People who are uncertain of their eligibility to possess and own firearms in California should request a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check using the form provided by the California Department of Justice website. You should never attempt to purchase a firearm in order to test your eligibility in California. California is being particularly aggressive in seizing firearms from people prohibited from possessing them. Many people