What arms are “common”?

Gun Rights

The Ninth Circuit case Rupp v. Becerra challenges the California legislature’s ban on a wide of variety of rifles. Last week, I co-authored an amicus brief explaining: 1. Supreme Court precedents state that common arms cannot be banned. 2. Lower courts have used several methodologies to decide whether a type of arm is "common"; under any methodology, the arms targeted by California plainly are common. Therefore, prohibition is unconstitutional. The challenged ban: Beginning in 1989, the California legislature began outlawing firearms by dubbing them "assault weapons." In California and elsewhere, the definition of "assault weapon" has never been fixed or coherent, but is instead a shorthand for the largest number of firearms that gun prohibition advocates believe they can target in a given legislative session. Indeed, just about the only firearms that not been labeled "assault weapons" are actual "assault rifles," as defined by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency; these are certain battlefield rifles capable of automatic fire, such as the German Sturmgewehr , the Soviet AK-47, or the U.S. M-16. See Kopel, Defining "Assault Weapons," The Regulatory Review (Univ. of Pennsylvania) (Nov. 14, 2018). Under the latest definition from California, all centerfire semiautomatic rifles are prohibited if they: Are on a list that bans guns by make and model, OR Have a fixed (nondetachable) magazine over 10 rounds, OR Use detachable magazines, and have one of the following features: a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; a forward pistol grip; a thumbhole stock; […]

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