San Diegans file lawsuit challenging state assault weapon ban


Senior Sales Staff Mark Warner shows a bump stock installed on an AR-15 rifle at Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Virgina, on October 6, 2017. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO — Three San Diego residents filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging California’s assault weapon ban, with the plaintiffs alleging that the state is violating its residents’ Second Amendment rights by its allegedly misguided definition of assault weapons.

The suit, filed on behalf of James Miller, Patrick Russ and Ryan Peterson, as well as the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee, alleges that the types of firearms banned under California’s definition of assault weapons are lawfully protected under the Second Amendment.

The suit calls California’s usage of the term “assault weapons,” “a politically-concocted pejorative term designed to suggest that there is an inherently unlawful or illegitimate basis for owning otherwise common firearms protected by the Second Amendment.”

The plaintiffs allege that the state has prohibited certain lawful firearms by designating them assault weapons under faulty rationales, such as basing its assault weapon status on the rifle’s ammunition capacity.

“The government cannot ban the constitutionally-protected firearms at issue in this case,” attorney George M. Lee said. “We look forward to proving that the state’s statutes, policies, and practices at issue in this case are both unconstitutional and irrational.”

The lawsuit references U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez’s recent ruling that California’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. Benitez later stayed his own order.

“This is a straightforward case to protect our clients’ constitutional rights and property,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, John Dillon, said. “The state of California’s ban on these firearms will fail constitutional scrutiny for the same reasons that its ban on firearm magazines did.”

Dillon also represents the plaintiffs in another suit filed in San Diego federal court last month on behalf of Matthew Jones, Thomas Furrh and several firearm-advocacy organizations, which alleges that the state’s ban on firearm purchases for people between the ages of 18 and 21 represents age discrimination and infringes on the rights of law-abiding young adults.

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