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Challenges to California “Assault Weapon” Law

SAF is filing a suit in federal court in California challenging the state’s assault weapons ban. The challenge appears to be for vagueness, which are notoriously difficult, but not impossible to win.

“California attempts to make a distinction among firearms where no natural one exists,” noted Calguns Executive Director Gene Hoffman. “The generic definition of so-called ‘assault weapons’ was simply an attempt to prohibit possession of guns that look scary.”

Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Don Kilmer of San Jose and Jason A. Davis of Mission Viejo. Kilmer said the case is indicative of the way things have become in California.

“Now that the right to keep arms has correctly been recognized as fundamental and applicable to California,” Kilmer said, “gun owners can’t be faced with the practice of ‘arrest them first and let the courts sort it out’ for exercising constitutional rights. That is just how things are done in our country.”

Combined with the Second Amendment, this could be a winning argument. I would think the trick is to try to get the Courts to say two things. One that a law governing a fundamental, constitutional right cannot be worded so vaguely, and/or that laws can’t be passed that serve the purpose of frustrating the lawful exercise of that right, or making it too legally risky. That would be a huge win if they would rule along those lines.

4 Responses to “Challenges to California “Assault Weapon” Law”

  1. DirtCrashr says:

    Like I commented at Chance’s, they have some good ammunition too: Calguns ExecDir Gene Hoffman has submitted a declaration showing that the California Department of Justice had actually lead a disinformation campaign from 2006 to 2009 that was designed to confuse gun owners and law enforcement and actively attempted to create criminal test cases against innocent gun owners.
    A lot of people have given up on California, but we keep fighting.

  2. Glen says:

    There maybe less here than it appears.

    Yes, there is evidence that California’s Attorney General attempted to sow deliberate confusion. Indeed, The Calguns Foundation was already attempting to force the AG to issue clarifying notices via an earlier lawsuit.

    But this suit seems to claim that California’s AWB is unconstitutionally vague only because of the AG’s interference – not that it is vague on its face. And that’s an admission that the law isn’t actually vague.

    At best, this suit has a difficult and complex procedural path before it. There is a strong argument that it belong in state court vs. federal court. And it makes no attempt to challenge the AWB on other grounds, such as rationality.

    Bottom line: this case is going nowhere fast.

  3. Chas says:

    Markie Marxist sez: “There’s nothing vague about it! The assault weapon ban only applies to privately owned guns that we commies expecially don’t like! Other privately owned guns, which we just plain don’t like, are okay for now. That’s a perfectly clear distinction! As far as we’re concerned.”

  4. Ian Argent says:

    Cautiously optimistic here.

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