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Posted: 6/29/2001 6:26:55 AM EST
LA Times http://www.latimes.com/news/state/20010629/t000053867.html Friday, June 29, 2001 Challenge to Assault Gun Ban Upheld Ruling: State high court says weapons are illegal only if they were barred by name or have specific characteristics listed in a 1999 revision of the law. By MAURA DOLAN, Times Legal Affairs Writer SAN FRANCISCO--Guns that are nearly identical to assault weapons banned in California are legal unless they were outlawed by name or have specific assault weapon characteristics, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Chief Justice Ronald M. George, in a strongly worded dissent, accused the high court's majority of creating a loophole in the state's assault weapons ban that could allow copycat weapons to circulate. The 4-2 decision allows the state attorney general to continue adding names of guns to the list of banned weapons. But gun users may not be prosecuted unless their weapons were specifically identified in a 1989 law or covered by a more generic ban added by the Legislature in 1999, the court said. Justice Janice Rogers Brown, writing for the majority, said a contrary ruling would have left gun owners and law enforcement unsure about which weapons were banned. "Not only would ordinary citizens find it difficult . . . to determine whether a semiautomatic firearm should be considered an assault weapon, ordinary law enforcement officers in the field would have similar difficulty," Brown wrote. The impact of the ruling will be limited by 1999 revisions to the assault weapons law passed by the Legislature. In an attempt to go after copycat weapons, lawmakers expanded the ban to include not only named weapons but any guns that had specific characteristics. For example, the manufacture, sale, loan or gift of ammunition magazines capable of accepting more than 10 rounds was outlawed. Military-style semiautomatic firearms also were banned based on generic features, including a protruding pistol grip. Dennis Henigan of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence said he was surprised and disappointed by the ruling, because it "could be a problem if you had an attorney general who was hostile to the statute itself and refused to list guns." Henigan also said some assault weapons that are not on the list may not have the characteristics included in the generic ban and will now be legal under the ruling. Some gun control advocates charged that former state Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, a Republican, was not aggressively enforcing the law. Current Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, has added many guns to the banned list, they said. The high court ruling stemmed from a case brought by J.W. Harrott, a Delano lawyer who accepted a gun collection in payment for legal services in a drug trial. The Kings County Sheriff's Department, which had the gun collection, refused to give Harrott one of the weapons, a semiautomatic rifle, on the grounds that it was an assault weapon banned by the 1989 law
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 6:27:42 AM EST
A Superior Court judge ruled that the weapon was banned, but a Court of Appeal overturned that decision. In its opinion Thursday, the high court majority quoted at length from a brief filed by the National Rifle Assn. "If allowed to stand, the trial court's decision in Harrott would subject California gun owners, particularly hunters, to whimsical and capricious prosecution," the court quoted the NRA as saying in Harrott vs. County of Kings, S055064. "Kern County might have no problem with a particular firearm, but a single judge in Kings County could turn a truly innocent citizen . . . into a felon." George, who was joined by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar in opposing the ruling, complained that the decision "represents a clear and unwarranted frustration" of the Legislature's intention to ban all assault weapons. He noted that the Legislature added specific language to the law in 1991 that banned all AK series rifles, regardless of whether their particular model was listed. At least the "detrimental effect" of the decision will be diminished by the 1999 revisions to the law "and the current attorney general's apparent willingness to attempt to keep up with firearm manufacturers' production of new AK models," George said. Harrott, who practices criminal and family law, said Thursday that he is glad he will finally get his gun. He said he pursued the case for nearly seven years because he had promised his former client "that none of his property would stay in the Kings County evidence locker." The lawyer has enjoyed hunting and target shooting in the past, but he said he is "not a gun kook." Even though he won Thursday's case, Harrott said his weapon, which is registered, was banned by the 1999 revisions. However, the gun ban allowed some owners to keep assault weapons if they registered them within a certain time. John S. Dulcich, who represented Harrott, said the semiautomatic rifle that sparked all the litigation is worth $300 to $900. The legal fight was more about "the principle of the situation" than the weapon, Dulcich said. The ruling is "important because it gives some more clarity to whether an ordinary citizen is going to be prosecuted as a felon," Dulcich said. He said gun holders can get around the generic ban by modifying their weapons slightly. The California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 1989 ban last year but has not ruled on the 1999 revisions. Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 7:16:52 AM EST
Excellent. So what's it mean to us? If you've got an "assault weapon" from the 1991-2000 period squirreled away in your safe you don't have to worry about prosecution. Just take off the pistol grip for storage and transportation. still no new sales of fun guns, since that SOB Lockyear can add guns to the banned list.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 7:25:31 AM EST
What, exactly, is a "Gun Kook" Ed gun kook?
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 7:29:51 AM EST
It means nothing to us. It only affected the 1989 Roberti-Roos Law. SB23 still covers "evil features". The decision is moot. It's a hollow victory.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 7:36:12 AM EST
It sounds like this ruling eliminates any judges ability to add firearms to the banned list. This implies that all the additions to the original list are null and void since they were all added by some judge based on a petition by atty general slime bucket. I'm thinking that Bushmasters with tumor grips and other utility rifles with similar concessions to the 99 law are legal again. I am looking forward to an expert opinion on what the practical ramifications of this ruling are.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 7:43:05 AM EST
I wonder how this will effect the "series" ban. ie AK series and AR series? I wonder if this ruling will void them? This would allow the conventual stocked AK's to be sold...
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 8:53:37 AM EST
Originally Posted By Noname: I wonder how this will effect the "series" ban. ...
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Anything banned under Roberti Roo's is still banned. Anything banned under SB23 is still banned. Anything banned by Make & Model on ther Roberti Roos Add On list is still banned. Aything else is legal. For example a AR type lower is now legal as long as the Make and Model number are not specifically listed on the Roberti Roo's add on. All Bushmaster has to do is start making lowers with new model numbers. As the new model numbers are added on to the ban the companies can resoond with newer model numbers.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 9:10:11 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/29/2001 9:07:28 AM EST by Atencio]
orginally posted by mcgredo
still no new sales of fun guns, since that SOB Lockyear can add guns to the banned list.
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I wonder what he will do about adding to the list? Also what will happen to the AR15s that got in under the August 16th date but were bought after 1999 and are now registered as assault weapons?
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 9:15:25 AM EST
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 9:16:04 AM EST
Originally Posted By Atencio: Also what will happen to the AR15s that got in under the August 16th date but were bought after 1999 and are now registered as assault weapons?
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It depend on if the owner registered them under SB23 or the Roberti Roo's add on. Say you removed the SB23 evil feature from an Oly MFR, a gun not banned by make & model, and then registered in as a roberti roo's add on. This court ruling would make that registration unnecessary. The real effect of this ruling is that we should start to see stripped AR & AK lowers in stores agian. We should also start to see the Saiga & Vepr hunting rifles again.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 9:23:20 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/29/2001 9:24:18 AM EST by Atencio]
More to the point. The ARs that were bought after 1999 but before Aug 16th could be registered despite the fact that 1999 deadline had passed due to being added as series rifles. Now that this might be out the window what happens with those ARs that were bought between 12/31/99 and 8/16/00 and later registered? Nevermind, I think I am getting the add on list confused with the AK issue.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 9:31:00 AM EST
Weiseguy, The point of the ruling is that a judge cannot add a firearm to the list UNLESS the Atorney General requests it. The law allows the Attorney General to petition a court in order to add firearms to the list.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 9:57:30 AM EST
I kind of hoped they would find guns bought after RR illegal. There is no way our socialist-run legislature will ever overturn these ridiculous laws. At least not for 10 years minimum. And if this ever gets to the SCOTUS i think they will rule against us as well. Im just waiting for the harrasment to begin at the gun ranges when we bring our EBR's. "Where ist yor paperz, comrade?" Fortunately most police officers are in the same boat as we are and i think as long as you are an upstanding citizen you probably wont get in trouble. But I fear its either going to take having the jails filled with otherwise law abiding citizens (which no one in their right mind wants) or armed resistance to confiscation (which isnt much better). What we need are Federal gun laws only. Its too damn confusing and unorganized to have every state with different laws. Thank you California for making me act like a criminal.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 10:02:04 AM EST
I ask that all kalifornia gun owners do the right thing and comply with the spirit of both laws.
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 10:31:02 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/29/2001 10:28:10 AM EST by CavVet]
Imbro, While I dont have to deal with it......... Thats a confusing ass spirit.....
Link Posted: 6/29/2001 10:38:11 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/29/2001 10:36:13 AM EST by Chaingun]
Originally Posted By Imbrog|io: I ask that all kalifornia gun owners do the right thing and comply with the spirit of both laws.
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yah, and after that we shove a beer keg up your ass, and you'll be the life of the party [:D]
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