Two California Gun Laws Kept Alive This Week | Courthouse News Service
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Two California Gun Laws Kept Alive This Week

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - In a double blow to gun owners, two federal judges upheld California's definition of assault weapons and a Silicon Valley suburb's ban on large-capacity weapons.

Mark Haynie and Brendan Richards filed the lawsuit in protest of the California Assault Weapons Control Act. Both men were arrested for owning firearms in violation of the law in 2009 and 2010 and say the California Department of Justice should issue bulletins distinguishing guns with "bullet buttons" from assault rifles.

Since Haynie's rifle had a "bullet button," which makes the rifle's magazine detachable, it could not be identified under California penal code as an actual banned assault weapon. Investigators likewise failed to identify the guns that Richards owned as assault weapons after he spent six days in jail.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who has dismissed the action with leave to amend twice before, put the final nail in the case Tuesday.

"Plaintiffs fail to make the necessary showing of 'imminent threat of irreparable harm' because they fail to demonstrate they will suffer continuing, adverse effects in the absence of an injunction," the ruling states. "Haynie alleges that, after his false arrest, he sold his firearms for fear of future arrests, and now has a reasonable fear of reacquiring similar firearms. As in the first motion to dismiss, Haynie's single arrest is not sufficient to demonstrate a real and immediate threat because 'past exposure to illegal conduct' alone is not enough to meet the standard for injunctive relief. Richards also fails to adequately allege present, adverse effects. Richards contends that because he was arrested twice, he is realistically threatened by a repetition of wrongful arrests."

A day later, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose refused to enjoin a Sunnyvale ordinance banning large-capacity gun magazines, finding no violation of the Second Amendment.

Passed by voters in 2013 by a 66 percent majority, the law is virtually identical to one San Francisco enacted that same year. Gun owners also challenged the San Francisco ordinance, but U.S. District Judge William Alsup shot them down in February.

Leonard Fyock is the lead plaintiff in the Sunnyvale challenge.

Whyte found that he and the other gun owners failed to show that the ban would cause irreparable harm.

The 66 percent majority vote in favor of the ban also supports denying injunctive relief, according to the ruling.

"Whether or not the law is ultimately effective is yet to be seen. But for now, Sunnyvale has submitted pages of credible evidence, from study data to expert testimony to the opinions of Sunnyvale public officials, indicating that the Sunnyvale ordinance is substantially related to the compelling government interest in public safety," Whyte wrote. "While plaintiffs present evidence that the law will not be successful, the court cannot properly resolve that question. The court is persuaded that Sunnyvale residents enacted Measure C out of a genuine concern for public safety, and that the law, with its many exceptions and narrow focus on just those magazines having a capacity to accept more than ten rounds, is reasonably tailored to the asserted objective of protecting the public from gun violence."

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