SAF Sues California To Void Assault Weapons Ban

The Second Amendment Foundation and CalGuns have taken up the cause of Brendan John Richards. Richard is an Iraq war vet who’s been arrested twice for possession of unnecessarily scary rifles. Both times, charges where dropped. The Golden State’s, er, senior criminalist – you read that right – sent a puff of white smoke up the chimney to indicate that Richards’ guns were not, in fact, assault weapons. Can you say, ‘arbitrary’? I knew that you could. If local cops are having trouble telling the difference between your basic semi-auto rifle and a shockingly black one with a (gasp!) pistol grip or a shoulder thingy that folds up, it’s a pretty good bet your average gun owner’s not clear what passes for legal either. Make the jump for the full press release…

BELLEVUE, Wash., Nov. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” claiming that the statute is “vague and ambiguous” in its definition of assault weapons, leading to the arrest of a California man on two different occasions.

SAF is joined in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, by the CalGuns Foundation and Brendan John Richards, an honorably-discharged Marine and Iraq war veteran, who was arrested and jailed in May 2010 and August 2011. On both occasions, charges against Richards were dismissed when it was determined that he had not violated the law because firearms in his possession on both occasions were not “assault weapons” as defined by California law. They are represented by attorneys Donald Kilmer of San Jose and Jason A. Davis of Mission Viejo.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the California Department of Justice, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Greg Myers.

“It’s an insult to be arrested once for violating a law that is so vague and ambiguous that law enforcement officers cannot tell the difference between what is and what is not a legal firearm under this statute,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “but to be arrested and jailed twice for the same offense is an outrage. Brendan Richards’ dilemma is a textbook example of why the California statute should be nullified.

“On both occasions,” he continued, “Mr. Richards was jailed and had to post non-refundable bail fees. He lost work due to his incarcerations. In both cases, the same Senior Criminalist John Yount issued reports that the firearms in Richards’ possession were not ‘assault weapons’ under California law. Mr. Richards now has a reasonable fear that his exercise of his fundamental Second Amendment rights will result in more wrongful arrests. We’re delighted to step in, with the CalGuns Foundation, on his behalf.

“This nonsense has to stop,” Gottlieb stated, “and the only way to insure that is to show California’s assault weapon statutes and regulations are unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous. Brendan Richards is not the only citizen faced with this kind of harassment under color of law.”

The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.  Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.