Gun Rights Crusaders Target State Over Definition of "Assault Weapon"

Categories: Law & Order
rambo_movie-10392.jpg
Hell yeah I got a license for it!
The term "assault weapon" has always rankled Second Amendment absolutists. Handled properly, an umbrella could be an "assault weapon." Considering the purpose of a weapon, the term "assault weapon" is rather redundant.

In this state it's also "unconstitutionally vague" according to a lawsuit filed this week by a band of gun rights crusaders.

The plaintiffs in the case, filed Thursday in Oakland, are the Calguns Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation, and Brendan John Richards. The latter is an Iraq vet who managed to get himself arrested and his guns impounded -- twice. The former are two litigious firearms aficionado groups who have made a cottage industry out of suing cities and states (you may recall the Second Amendment Foundation successfully forcing Muni to accept advertising in which people brandish firearms).

In both of Richards' confrontations with the law, he and the arresting officer differed on whether the firearms in the ex-Marine's trunk fit the definition of "assault weapons." In both cases, Richards lost the argument, was arrested, had his guns taken away, and spent several days in jail while his family ponied up bail money. And, finally, in both cases, weapons experts overruled the arresting officers, declaring Richards' armory were not "assault weapons" -- all charges were dismissed, and Richards got his non-assault weapons back.

Now, naturally, he's taking everybody to court.



To take a shot at the nitty-gritty of this case, Richards' first arrest took place last year at a Sonoma County Motel 6 during an investigation of a "disturbance," about which the suit does not go into detail.

The plaintiff saw fit to tell a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy that there were unloaded firearms in his trunk. The deputy seized two pistols and a rifle -- the suit, again, does not offer more salient details -- and arrested Richards on two counts of assault weapon possession and four counts of "possession of large capacity magazines." Those charges were eventually dismissed, however, when a state expert on firearms ruled the guns did not meet the criteria of "assault weapons"

(For those who know their firearms, the semiautomatic pistol "had a properly installed bullet button, thus rendering the firearm incapable of accepting a detachable magazine that could only be removed from the gun by the use of a tool.")

Weapon_List.png
In August of this year, Richards once again had a brush with the law. He once again told a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy he had unloaded weapons in his trunk. The deputy seized a "Springfield Armory M1A" from the vehicle, and Richards was arrested and incarcerated. Yet, once again, a state firearms expert ruled that this gun was not an "assault weapon."

In brief, the gun enthusiasts claim the state's "Assault Weapon Statutes and Regulations" are "vague and ambiguous on their face as related to Richards' arrests." The plaintiffs claim the state's laws are "hopelessly vague and ambiguous as applied; and thus an infringement on the Second Amendment." The state's regulations, then are "unconstitutionally vague," and "mere possession of a firearm, when otherwise lawful, cannot support a finding of probable cause to believe a crime has been committed."

Richards wants the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office to undergo more training related to California's Assault Weapon Statutes and Regulations -- which he'd also like to see taken out and shot as unconstitutional.

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113 comments
Oni Dori
Oni Dori

How woefully ignorant and uninformed you are. It amuses me how the most ignorant on any specific subject are also for most piously convinced that their stance and/or opinion is the correct one, like it came down as the Word of God.

Infidel72
Infidel72

Author is totally not up on pop culture. Halo is so 2005, yet enough of us still alive to remember playing it.Especially when all he had to do was use guns from MW3 for his demagoguery.

Ryan
Ryan

what a ridiculous article - it amazes me stupid some people are....

Joe
Joe

Joe, you sir are an idiot. go take your halo guns and play.

James Daniel Ross
James Daniel Ross

Loser! Here's a quarter! Catch a cab. Find your journalism professor. Kick him SQUARE in the balls. He owes you a refund.

Jason Sawyer
Jason Sawyer

If a typical cop doesn't even know how to recognize an "assault weapon," isn't that proof that the law is overly vague? Or is it that you have some sort of agenda?

Jeff Campbell
Jeff Campbell

Wow, what a stupid article, if you do not know what and Assault Rifle is, maybe you should write about something else. The truth is, an Assault weapon is a Military Rifle with a Selector switch that allows it to shoot in full automatic mode, anything else is just a hunting rifle painted black with plastic furniture.

Bone
Bone

What part of rendering me defenseless is going to keep YOU safe from gun violence?

Mike
Mike

Using a chart of 100% fictional guns from a scifi game as examples immediately ruins any credibility the article had.

Bitha
Bitha

Leftists love to play those word games:

"income inequality" ( real meaning: jealousy)

"Affirmative action "( racism)

"living wage" ( unionize)

 KennethR
KennethR

If I'd been arrested twice and spent several days in jail when I was innocent and the charges were dropped I'd be looking into a lawsuit too.

redleg3319
redleg3319

Show your bias much, Joe?  Really need to hire a better researcher or better yet SF Weekly might want to hire a better propagandist who can actually write proper propaganda

Finnemorej
Finnemorej

You should talk to you kids more, as these are weapons used by soldiers in the HALO game. You should have included some plasma rifles or needlers as well.

Palaeomerus
Palaeomerus

So, according to the chart, some fictional guns used by the branches of the United Nations Space Command military something like 540 years from now in a series of video games, comics, novels, and animated shorts are a huge threat to public safety that needs to be legally controlled by police officers who DON'T properly follow the law in California? 

is that right?

Otalps
Otalps

Considering the intelligence level of the article, I'll just say Joe you're a fucking idiot.

epobirs
epobirs

A weapon by definition is an assault weapon. I've never seen or heard of anything that might be described as an 'avoid confrontation weapon' or such silliness.

The term 'assault weapon' was coined by those seeking to whittle away at the rights of private citizens. Everybody else finds the term redundant and revealing of the speaker's mindset.

jwallin
jwallin

gun rights crusaderssecond amendment absolutistsfirearms aficionado groups gun enthusiasts

Frame the story with hyperbole much?

Garrett York
Garrett York

Um...the um...helpful gun chart you posted up there...yeah, those guns don't actually exist. They're from the video game 'Halo'. And, well, I find it interesting that you post the chart immediately after the sentence beginning with "for those who know their firearms...". Posting the above chart doesn't lend much credibility to any arguments you might be attempting to make. Actually, it doesn't lend much credibility to your intellect.

KenPrescott
KenPrescott

I will accept your "reasonable restrictions" on my 2nd Amendment rights if you will accept MY "reasonable restrictions" on your 1st Amendment rights.

To quote Howie Carr: Deal, or No Deal?

Masterchief1
Masterchief1

Id like to shoot the author of this piece of pablum in the face with a M19SSM from the chart, but because A) it doesn't exist in this reality and B) if it did, I, as a law abiding civilian, cannot purchase shoulder launched anti armor rockets, it is a moot point.

Jingo
Jingo

I hope the author of this obviously well-researched piece will join me in my efforts to ban the phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

Garrett York
Garrett York

As a 2nd Amendment Absolutist, I would actually be willing to compromise on this particular banning, as long as it is not a masked attempt to later ban such commonplace weapons as the Disruptor, the Blaster, the AMR-B21 Arc Generator, the M41-A Pulse Rifle, the ZF-1, the Lancer or the Noisy Cricket... then we're cool.

Terjamaster
Terjamaster

Yes, we need to ban video games. those guns look very scary.

Joe
Joe

When seconds count, the police will be there in mere minutes.

Joe, I pray you don't have to find out this is true...

catmman
catmman

Wherein the SFWeekly reporter can't even 'phone-in' his bias...

libtardhater
libtardhater

Hay moron the law was wrong not once but twice depriving the man of money time and freedom, the laws are not vague or convoluted the officers are either as libtarded gun haters as you or inept. Sylvester Stallone is holding a M60 a military machine gun the actor was a spokes person for the Brady gun haters and those cartoon guns are from a video game. Start future articles with this disclaimer I may be an ignorant, mildly retarded, biased liberal but here is my bent opinion.

Brandon Schlichter
Brandon Schlichter

I'm worried about video game  violence too , how do i subscribe to your newsletter?

Far too long , pixel on pixel violence has continued to grow unchecked. This must stop and as a community we must bound together and change things!

thebeeishorrid
thebeeishorrid

That was one of the most pathetic articles I've read in a long time and I usually have to read the Sacramento Bee, so that's really saying something.

Kevin L. Thomason
Kevin L. Thomason

I am Of Counsel to The Calguns Foundation, and I can assure people that they are not litigious. What the Foundation does is simple. They find laws that violate other laws, and they point this out to judges.

The entire concept that gun rights are a conservative issue is laughable. California's first real gun control law was the Mulford Act. It was pushed by a far right Republican, was signed by Ronald Reagon, and was expressly designed to disarm blacks in Oakland (specifically, the Black Panthers).

Most of the civil rights activists who are pushing for more common sense on the gun issue are either centrist, or slight left. The person who wrote this article does not actually know any of the history, the people, the issues, or the law. Instead of a real article, we get something that uses pictures from movies and video games?

This is morally wrong. That is how wrong it is. People are DYING in Oakland and other cities,msimply because they do not have the basic human right of self defense anymore

BaldDragn
BaldDragn

I'm dumbfounded as to how the editors of a large newspaper can have any respect for themselves or their "newspaper" while printing garbage like this.

James Black
James Black

I would like to know Nathan's take on this, as he seems to be much more even-keeled than Mr. Eskenazi.

24
24

     Its about time someone challenged the term "assault weapons".  It was a bad term to begin with and whatever happened to the term "shall not be infringed"? Isn't that term in the 2nd Amendment..of course it is. We can't just stand by and let them slowly take our guns away..Its not right and lets protect our rights for future generations.  Taking away guns from good civilians is never a good idea.  As Lt. Colonel Grossman mentions that there are sheep, wolves and soldiers.. I guess that the sheep are the people that don't believe in guns, the wolves are the predators of our society (people who commit crimes) and the Soldiers are the protectors, Law Enforcement and Military.      Guess what people crime is everwhere and our Soldiers only respond to 911 calls and they can't catch everyone. Trust in God and yourself and we just might get things right.  Protect our 2nd Amendment and don't let those sheep take away our guns.  God bless you all.

Nacho
Nacho

Am I the only one taken aback by the author's name Joe EskeNAZI? I had a feeling of the direction this article was going to take right off the bat.

retired dad
retired dad

The author says "naturally he's taking everyone to court".  Of course he is.  It's blatently clear his civil rights have been violated not once but twice.  Why in the world would he NOT take this to court?  Come on, this is not over a spilled cup of coffee, it's about his basic right to possess a firearm legally.  He has violated no laws at all.

Tim Kindred
Tim Kindred

  All gun laws are an affront to anyone who supports liberty & freedom. Gun laws are prophylactic in nature, and, by extension, punish the individual without ever being accused of doing wrong.

  Better to remove all gun laws and instead hold individuals responsible for their actions.

  As the phrase goes: Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms belong on store shelves, and NOT as a government agency.

Larry Arnold
Larry Arnold

Joe, what if a couple of cops thought this blog entry violated the law and arrested you, seizing your computer? You sat in jail or were out on bail until a state free speech expert got around to confirming that you didn't break the law? Eventually your computer got returned? Would you say, "Joe got himself arrested?" Or would you file a lawsuit?

Mcexp2
Mcexp2

What's up with the absurd image of video game weapons???

Jonathan Jensen
Jonathan Jensen

They can't use an image of actual, real "assault weapons" because not only do they not understand what an AW really is, the rifles CA and the anti's are trying to vilify here are everyday ranch rifles and plinkers.  

Facetious Sam
Facetious Sam

This weapons chart is a wonderful use of propaganda. Since the average reader of this site is ignorant and poorly educated, the images will instill fear and hysteria in the mundane masses and the plastic people. "Joe", your handlers will be pleased.

Myself, I am pleased to see the arrest was overturned by weapon's experts. I am pleased the that the PTB in the People's Republik are so ignorant of their own laws that they had to hire experts to show them what the average person already knows. And the funniest part of this? "Joe" reports this as if HE is an expert! HE doesn't even realize that "Assault Weapon" is a term invented to vilify law law abiding citizens! Just like the term "Saturday Night Nigger Town Special".

Oh well. One can lead a fool to the truth, but you can't make him open his eyes 

Lord Volcos
Lord Volcos

Hey he forgot the weapons from the Covenant..........lol

Wuzyoungoncetoo
Wuzyoungoncetoo

The author's blatant dishonesty is exceeded only by his profound stupidity.

- "The term "assault weapon" has always rankled Second Amendment absolutists."

One need not be an "absolutist" of any variety to oppose moronically pointless legislation and dishonest attempts by activists and politicians to muddy the waters and misrepresent the facts.

m a
m a

Perhaps he should go read through the case filings and rulings in Heller and McDonald. Particularly the briefs indicating the racist basis for gun control.I found these comments from the Solicitor General before SCOTUS in Heller (and he was arguing in support of the DC ban) particularly interesting re the comment absolutist:

"GENERAL CLEMENT: Well, Justice Scalia, I think our principal concern based on the parts of the court of appeals opinion that seemed to adopt a very categorical rule were with respect to machine guns, because I do think that it is difficult -- I don't want to foreclose the possibility of the Government, Federal Government making the argument some day -- but I think it is more than a little difficult to say that the one arm that's not protected by the Second Amendment is that which is the standard issue armament for the National Guard, and that's what the machine gun is. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But this law didn't involve a restriction on machine guns. It involved an absolute ban. It involved an absolute carry prohibition. Why would you think that the opinion striking down an absolute ban would also apply to a narrow one -- narrower one directed solely to machine guns? GENERAL CLEMENT: I think, Mr. Chief Justice, why one might worry about that is one might read the language of page 53a of the opinion as reproduced in the petition appendix that says once it is an arm, then it is not open to the District to ban it. Now, it seems to me that the District is not strictly a complete ban because it exempts pre-1976 handguns. The Federal ban on machine guns is not, strictly speaking, a ban, because it exempts pre-law machine guns, and there is something like 160,000 of those. JUSTICE SCALIA: But that passage doesn't mean once it's an arm in the dictionary definition of arms. Once it's an arm in the specialized sense that the opinion referred to it, which is -- which is the type of a weapon that was used in militia, and it is -it is nowadays commonly held. GENERAL CLEMENT: Well -JUSTICE SCALIA: If you read it that way, I don't see why you have a problem. GENERAL CLEMENT: Well, I -- I hope that you read it that way. But I would also say that I think that whatever the definition that the lower court opinion employed, I do think it's going to be difficult over time to sustain the notion -- I mean, the Court of Appeals also talked about lineal descendants. And it does seem to me that, you know, just as this Court would apply the Fourth Amendment to something like heat imagery, I don't see why this Court wouldn't allow the Second Amendment to have the same kind of scope, and then I do think that reasonably machine guns come within the term "arms." Now, if this Court wants to say that they don't -- I mean -- I mean -- we'd obviously welcome that in our -- in our obligation to defend the constitutionality of acts of Congress. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But this law didn't involve a restriction on machine guns. It involved an absolute ban. It involved an absolute carry prohibition. Why would you think that the opinion striking down an absolute ban would also apply to a narrow one -- narrower one directed solely to machine guns? GENERAL CLEMENT: I think, Mr. Chief Justice, why one might worry about that is one might read the language of page 53a of the opinion as reproduced in the petition appendix that says once it is an arm, then it is not open to the District to ban it. Now, it seems to me that the District is not strictly a complete ban because it exempts pre-1976 handguns. The Federal ban on machine guns is not, strictly speaking, a ban, because it exempts pre-law machine guns, and there is something like 160,000 of those. JUSTICE SCALIA: But that passage doesn't mean once it's an arm in the dictionary definition of arms. Once it's an arm in the specialized sense that the opinion referred to it, which is -- which is the type of a weapon that was used in militia, and it is -it is nowadays commonly held. GENERAL CLEMENT: Well -JUSTICE SCALIA: If you read it that way, I don't see why you have a problem. GENERAL CLEMENT: Well, I -- I hope that you read it that way. But I would also say that I think that whatever the definition that the lower court opinion employed, I do think it's going to be difficult over time to sustain the notion -- I mean, the Court of Appeals also talked about lineal descendants. And it does seem to me that, you know, just as this Court would apply the Fourth Amendment to something like heat imagery, I don't see why this Court wouldn't allow the Second Amendment to have the same kind of scope, and then I do think that reasonably machine guns come within the term "arms." Now, if this Court wants to say that they don't -- I mean -- I mean -- we'd obviously welcome that in our -- in our obligation to defend the constitutionality of acts of Congress. JUSTICE SCALIA: But that passage doesn't mean once it's an arm in the dictionary definition of arms. Once it's an arm in the specialized sense that the opinion referred to it, which is -- which is the type of a weapon that was used in militia, and it is -it is nowadays commonly held. GENERAL CLEMENT: Well -JUSTICE SCALIA: If you read it that way, I don't see why you have a problem. GENERAL CLEMENT: Well, I -- I hope that you read it that way. But I would also say that I think that whatever the definition that the lower court opinion employed, I do think it's going to be difficult over time to sustain the notion -- I mean, the Court of Appeals also talked about lineal descendants. And it does seem to me that, you know, just as this Court would apply the Fourth Amendment to something like heat imagery, I don't see why this Court wouldn't allow the Second Amendment to have the same kind of scope, and then I do think that reasonably machine guns come within the term "arms." Now, if this Court wants to say that they don't -- I mean -- I mean -- we'd obviously welcome that in our -- in our obligation to defend the constitutionality of acts of Congress.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Don't forget the ever-popular 'fear-based' approach. You can thank that for the BATFE, NFA, and countless other bullshit institutions.

Ben
Ben

You used a picture of Rambo and a chart of guns from the video game series Halo.

Are you trying to lose credibility and look like an imbecile on purpose, or something?

Matt Quinn
Matt Quinn

An M1A is legal to own and have in California... And with a bullet button, it is definitely legal unless other illegal modifications have been done. To tell an officer that you have unloaded secured firearms in your trunk is the most responsible thing the owner can do. You are notifying the officer about them and that you are legally transporting them in the most secure way possible, and they will not be suspect upon further inspection of the vehicle... He was doing the correct thing.

Anonymous
Anonymous

As a gun enthusiast and C&R collector, I can really understand why he would sue about having an M1A wrongfully confiscated. Those things are NOT cheap, even basic models go for near a full grand, and the 'match' flavor of M1A can easily break two or even three thousand dollars. If I had a firearm that expensive wrongfully seized, I'd be all over that PD.

Trouble Shooter
Trouble Shooter

Anybody doing a split on the chance the author returns?

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