SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Two gun owners cannot force the California attorney general to prevent law-enforcement agencies from arresting people in possession of assault-weapon lookalikes, a federal judge ruled.
Mark Haynie and Brendan Richards were each arrested for allegedly owning assault weapons in 2009 and 2010. Haynie’s rifle had a “bullet button,” which makes the rifle’s magazine detachable, and could not be identified under California penal code as an actual banned assault weapon. Haynie was released, but sued the city of Pleasanton, claiming he feared future wrongful arrests. Richards spent six days in jail after his arrest after the Department of Justice found none of his firearms were assault weapons. Haynie and Richards were joined by the Calguns Foundation and Second Amendment Foundation in a consolidated lawsuit claiming California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Department of Justice should issue bulletins distinguishing guns with “bullet buttons” from assault rifles.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston refused to issue the order, finding Haynie and Richards have no basis for their claim that they are in danger of future arrests.
“Plaintiffs’ allegations that they fear future wrongful arrests do not demonstrate a case or controversy and fail to establish standing to seek an order compelling DOJ to issue a memorandum to prevent wrongful arrests,” she wrote. “Haynie and Richards would have to allege either that all law enforcement officers in California always arrest any citizen they come into contact with who is lawfully in possession of a weapon with a bullet button, or that the DOJ has ordered or authorized California law enforcement officials to act in such a manner.”
Illston also found Haynie and Richards were merely speculating on future run-ins with law enforcement. “These speculative claims do not show a likelihood of substantial and immediate irreparable injury,” she wrote.
Haynie and Richards can file an amended complaint by Nov. 4 if they want to proceed with their claims for declaratory relief.