On July 20, a three-judge panel of the United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard a case aimed at forcing Attorney General Kamala Harris to clarify California’s “assault weapons” ban, thereby limiting arrests resulting from the law’s ambiguities.
The case is being brought by Mark Haynie and Brendan Richards, both of whom were previously arrested for possession of banned “assault weapons,” then released after authorities ascertained their weapons were not on the ban list.
Haynie’s rifle had a “bullet button,” which was not banned at the time of his 2009 arrest. And Richards was jailed for six days in 2010 before the California Department of Justice figured out that none of the firearms he possessed at the time of his arrest were “assault weapons.”
Don Kilmer is the attorney for both men, and he argues that the ambiguity in the California Assault Weapons Control Act presents a threat of “future arrest” sufficient to discourage the exercise of Second Amendment rights in the present. Kilmer said, “The lack of clear, across-the-board guidelines for local law enforcement chills the fundamental right to bear arms.”
According to Courthouse News, Haynie and Richards are joined by Calguns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation in arguing that “Harris and the state Department of Justice should issue bulletins distinguishing guns with ‘bullet buttons’ from assault rifles.”
The case came to the 9th Circuit after being dismissed by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.
Peiyin Patty Li argued for the state Wednesday, saying, “It may be in applying criminal statutes that officers in the field sometimes get it wrong or there are close cases, but doesn’t mean a law is unconstitutionally vague or that a state attorney general has an obligation to promulgate regulations addressing that. It is not solely the attorney general’s duty to lay out very single thing that local law enforcement might run into.”
Li claimed that the panel should affirm Illston’s ruling, saying, “Fear of future arrest wasn’t enough to prove the threat of future harm, a standing requirement for the plaintiffs to challenge Harris’ application of the California Assault Weapons Control Act.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.