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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 ( 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.

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    • I visited my parents in California a few months back, and I found a local range run by some really great people. On the wall of the range shop were several AR-style rifles, and I asked about them, knowing that California has the aforementioned funky laws. One person there explained that it’s a mix-and-match situation; since California has chosen to define an assault weapon based on features (pistol grip, flash hider, etc.), you can carefully pick a few “nasty” features you want on your rifle, and, as long as you don’t have all of them, it’s okay. You can see how someone unfamiliar with the “proper” combinations of features would assume that a rifle is illegal because it comes close to some presupposed image of an illegal firearm.

    • Black Scary ones with Bullet Buttons. By having a non-removable magazine, the rest of the assault-weapon feature-ban doesn’t apply (which is a list of “scary features” like pistolgrips, etc).

      The pity, however, is Calgun’s own work can be used against them here: they have a really nice “is this an assault weapon” flowchart that, amongst other things, they use in their educational efforts teaching the police about what is legal and what is not.

      This in particular concerns Steps 10 and 12 on the flowchart.

      So the law isn’t ambiguous, but pretty clear cut:

      Removable magazine + one or more of the “evil features” == Assault weapon.

      Bullet Button + evil features == OK.

      So arguing that the law is ambiguous is a tough sell when it really is pretty clearcut…

      • If it was so clear then why has he been arrested twice for the same reason??? Are the police involved that stupid? maybe…

  1. I’m liking the specialization in these gun lobbies. I’m happy to let the SAF handle the courts and to let the NRA handle the legislature.

    • The problem is that I don’t really like how the NRA is representing me on the level of my Commonwealth — John Hohenwarter is the NRAILA rep for PA, along with a large portion of the North-East, and there are numerous examples of him acting to thwart the efforts of the local grassroots groups under the colors of the NRA.

      I can’t speak for other states/commonwealths, but from what I have seen, the NRA appears to be acting solely in its OWN interest, rather than in the interests of the people.

    • Oh yes, specialization is a wonderful thing… Oh wait, I forgot that I lost all respect for the NRA back in 2007 when they threw in with the likes of the Brady Campaign, Sen Schumer, Rep McCarthy, and the other usual suspects with the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. Do yourselves a favor and find better groups to support, like SAF or GOA…

  2. I’m all for this suit against the AG, but just out of curiosity. What prompted the police to arrest him? If he has the weapons in his house, cased in the car, etc… why would they go out of their way to make a fuss? My only guess is that either a cop or some “concerned citizen” reported him shooting at a range with a “scary looking gun.”

  3. Brendan John Richards was arrested twice, because he was stalking people with firearms in his vehicle after making threats. Brendan John Richards has a history of cyber bullying and computer hacking. Mr. Richards likes to uses an IP spoof application on his phone to harass people anonymously.

    Due to his military status, Brendan John Richards was let off with a slap on the wrists by the arresting officers and not charged with felony stalking. The arresting officers in May removed a large knife from Mr. Richards and refused to take statements from a handicapped man that he was stalking at the time of his arrest. This pass was the only reason he was not charged with felony stalking despite having automatic weapons in his car and a knife on his person. Mr. Richards has a history of mental illness and lied to the Marine Corp in order to gain membership.

    Furthermore, Mr. Richards carved a girl’s name into his arm that he had previously stalked. Brendan John Richards is no hero. Mr. Richards also has a history of stalking and harassing prostitutes. I encourage him to sue me as I have evidence, witnesses, and a log of everything. STOP BREAKING INTO MY ACCOUNTS


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