San Diego Residents File Lawsuit Challenging State Assault Weapon Ban
Speaker 1: 00:00 California's firearm laws are among the strictest in the country. And now was some gun owners want to challenge that saying the state's assault weapons ban violates the second amendment. And now a gun rights group has filed a lawsuit to block the state's ban. But we'll this latest legal challenge to California gun laws stand up in court. Dan Eaton is a legal analyst and partner add Seltzer Caplan McMahon. Vitek he joins me now. Dan, welcome. Speaker 2: 00:25 Thank you Jake. Good to be with you. Speaker 1: 00:27 So who are the plaintiffs in this lawsuit and why have they filed? Speaker 2: 00:31 Uh, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are actually three a San Diego, a gun owners who own, uh, guns with fixed magazines as required under a California law who want to use large capacity magazines that are otherwise prohibited under the state's current assault weapons ban. And Jade, it's important for me to define what that term magazine means cause I'm going to be using it quite a bit during the segment of the, under the complaint that the, uh, plaintiffs filed in a different case, Dunkin, uh, which, uh, was heard a couple of years ago. Uh, in a footnote, they indicated a magazine is a quote device that holds ammunition, cartridges or shells and along with other parts of the firearm, it feeds the ammunition into the chamber for firing closed quotes. So when I use the term magazine, that is what I am talking about. Speaker 1: 01:24 And Dan, what is it that this group is seeking to accomplish with this lawsuit? Speaker 2: 01:28 Oh, the plaintiff's, these individual con owners and the gun owners political action committee want to use the large capacity magazine that Judge Roger Benita's here in San Diego. He's a federal court judge here in San Diego, ruled earlier. Uh, they could possess under current California law. They can't use it because it's a crime, uh, using it would render the guns that these individuals have as assault weapons is to find, they desire to use these large capacity magazines with their respective firearms for purposes of defense in the home and for other lawful purposes such as target shooting and training. That's a direct quote from the complaint. The only feature of their weapons that would make them assault weapons under the laws plaintiffs are challenging would be the insertion of a large capacity magazine. Speaker 1: 02:20 Um, you know, does this group have a better chance at finding success with their lawsuit by filing it in San Diego? Speaker 2: 02:26 They clearly are trying to take advantage of a judge. Benitas is very lengthy ruling, which is now on appeal to the ninth circuit. Then what's interesting is the same day that they filed the complaint, uh, it was assigned to a two federal judge, John Houston. The plaintiffs also filed a notice of related action the same day seeking to have the case transferred to judge Beneatha's saying it would result in judicial economy. Uh, since he had already ruled in the earlier Dunkin case. Speaker 1: 03:00 And I want to pull directly from, from the lawsuit here, you know, the lawsuit said the term assault weapon is a politically concocted pejorative term for weapons lawfully used in virtually every state and argues that California is barring law abiding citizens from getting firearms for purposes like self-defense and hunting. Do the plaintiffs have an argument here? Speaker 2: 03:20 Well, the, the essential argument that they are making is that the term assault weapons does not have a fixed meaning. In fact, as the plaintiffs point out in their complaint, it's gone through several evals, several evolutions in California law itself. Since the issue was first addressed in the 1980s, it is now defined as a semiotic Madec center fire rifle or pistol with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds. And what plaintiffs are saying is that we have a fixed magazine that is attached to this, but what we want to do is used a fixed magazine that has a larger capacity. And given that the mere possession of a large capacity fixed magazines has been struck down as unconstitutional, we want to be able to use that large capacity fixed magazine as well, because the right to possess includes the right to use. Speaker 1: 04:22 So does California define assault weapon differently from than other states? Speaker 2: 04:29 Yes, there are a variety of different, uh, definitions in the roughly handful of states around the country that ban so-called assault weapons. Some use of the definition that was in the 1994 legislation sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein on the federal level which expired and some use different it definitions all tend to focus on whether these uh, firearms have detachable magazines. California ultimately said it has to have a fixed magazine, but even the definition of fixed magazine has changed. Uh, so that a fixed magazine now means that the magazine can only be removed and therefore or reloaded with ammunition if the firearm is disassembled. Speaker 1: 05:18 And do you know when this case will be heard in court? Speaker 2: 05:21 No. The interesting thing is right now as I said before, the case is under review by the clerk's office as to whether it ought to be transferred because the plaintiffs have filed a notice of related case. Once that is decided, whether it goes to judge Beneatha's or stays with judge John Houston, you will see some movement as far as case scheduling and so forth. Ultimately, I suspect that the case will be resolved on motions rather than full on trial because there is a very discrete legal question involving the second amendment and the facts are essentially not in dispute. Speaker 1: 05:57 I have been speaking to legal analysts, Dan Eaton, Dan, thank you so much. Thank you. Jade.