Following the shooting rampage of 24-year-old James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado on Friday that left twelve dead and over fifty wounded, there has been an outcry on both sides of a heated gun control debate that has raged on for decades. Last week, Mercury News reported that in California, widely considered to have some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws, it would be impossible for an individual to lawfully purchase the AR-15 assault rifle used by Holmes in the devastating shooting.
Adopted in 1989, the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act (“AWCA”), codified at California Penal Code Title 2, Chapter 2.3, Section 12275, et seq. placed, stringent restrictions on the purchase, sale, and possession of semi-automatic firearms in the state. At the time of its passage, the AWCA banned over fifty specific brands and models of firearms, mostly rifles and some pistols and shotguns.
In addressing the need for stricter control of assault weapons, the AWCA states:
The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the proliferation and use of assault weapons poses a threat to the health, safety, and security of all citizens of this state. The Legislature has restricted the assault weapons specified in Section 12276 based upon finding that each firearm has such a high rate of fire and capacity for firepower that its function as a legitimate sports or recreational firearm is substantially outweighed by the danger that it can be used to kill and injure human beings. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to place restrictions on the use of assault weapons and to establish a registration and permit procedure for their lawful sale and possession. It is not, however, the intent of the Legislature by this chapter to place restrictions on the use of those weapons which are primarily designed and intended for hunting, target practice, or other legitimate sports or recreational activities.
In addition to banning specific brands and models, the AWCA prohibited firearms from possessing certain characteristics that would categorize the weapon an assault weapon and therefore illegal. Some of those characteristics were rifles with threaded barrels capable of accepting a flash suppressor or silencer, rifles with flash suppressors, rifles with a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, rifles with an overall length of less than 30 inches, and rifles that had both a forward pistol grip and a folding or telescopic stock.
According to the story, the weapons used by Holmes, an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and two Glock pistols, were legally purchased over the months preceding the attack at two national gun chains in Colorado.
The possession and use of firearms, whether for protection or recreational use, is a very serious matter and requires government regulation. Attorney Lauren K. Johnson has always been a staunch supporter of California’s efforts to control the proliferation of firearms within its borders. However, Ms. Johnson has also successfully defended many lawful gun owners who are accused of possessing weapons both allowed and prohibited under California law. Should you have questions regarding California’s gun laws, contact Attorney Lauren K. Johnson today.