California Sued Over So-Called Assault Weapons Arrest

SAF & CalGuns Sue Over California ‘Assault Weapons’ Law Arrest

Second Amendment Foundation
Second Amendment Foundation

BELLEVUE, WA –-( The Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns Foundation have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California, seeking to have the state’s definition of so-called “assault weapons” declared unconstitutionally vague.

Joining SAF and Calguns in the lawsuit is Brendan John Richards, an Iraq combat veteran who served as a U.S. Marine, and whose arrest and six-day incarceration in the Sonoma County jail – and subsequent dismissal of all charges – was the catalyst for this legal action. Named as defendants are California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the California Department of Justice, the City of Rohnert Park and police officer Dean Becker.

Richards was jailed in May 2010 after Officer Becker, investigating a disturbance at a motel where Richards was staying, learned that Richards had two pistols and a rifle, all unloaded, in the trunk of his car. Becker, arrested Richards for unlawful possession of an assault weapon. However, in September of last year, the charges were dismissed by the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office, based on a report from the state Department of Justice that showed none of the guns met the state’s definition of an assault weapon.

“California’s law allows possession of a variety of firearms that do not meet the state’s assault weapons definition, which we believe is unconstitutionally vague,” noted SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “Mr. Richards was jailed for almost a week, when he had broken no law because a police officer had a conflicting view and the District Attorney’s office believed him.”

“California attempts to make a distinction among firearms where no natural one exists,” noted Calguns Executive Director Gene Hoffman. “The generic definition of so-called assault weapons’ was simply an attempt to prohibit possession of guns that look scary.”

Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Don Kilmer of San Jose and Jason A. Davis of Mission Viejo. Kilmer said the case is indicative of the way things have become in California.

“Now that the right to keep arms has correctly been recognized as fundamental and applicable to California,” Kilmer said, “gun owners can’t be faced with the practice of arrest them first and let the courts sort it out’ for exercising constitutional rights. That is just how things are done in our country.”

The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control. SAF has previously funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles; New Haven, CT; and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners, a lawsuit against the cities suing gun makers and an amicus brief and fund for the Emerson case holding the Second Amendment as an individual right.

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I was illegally searched and arrested while driving through California, because I owned an AK-47 which was legally purchased in another state. I've been looking for an attorney to sue the state of California since then.

Please email me if you are an attorney who can help me. Thanks.


I hope you know that the cop had reason to arrest Brendan Richards. He was not staying at the motel six. I was because I was hiding from him. The night before he came to my boyfriends house and harassed us all night and waited outside and called the cops and i told the cops i didnt want to talk to Brendan. Then the next day he wouldnt leave me alone on text so I went to a motel to hide from him and he came twice the first time physically hurting me and called the cops both times. Brendan… Read more »


BS.. Motel six , or wherever, he should have been charged with harassing, or maybe stalking… But stretching a gun charge for what he could get the most possibly screwed with is fraudulent on the Sherrifs dept part.. I don’t support that at all… It will been thrown out as it leaves a load of reasonable doubt out there, steering the charge far away from the real problem. Jmo. That’s like if I made 1000 unwanted phone calls and was charged with stealing a pack of bubble gum… There “was a reason ” begins to be stretching the officers reason… Read more »


It's obvious that the State of Califonia and it's citizens have no idea what freedoms are guarranteed by the Constitution or Bill of Rights. They permit illegal search and seizures, they don't understand the Second Amendment, and thus promote crime against their citizens. Because these citizens don't demand that their State government follow the Rights guarranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I believe that we should deny them their statehood. They can become their own country or go back to Spain or England if they want to belong to an existing country. When citizens become so ignorant… Read more »

gene Alaska

I left Calif. after watching them destroy our second ammendment rights. I spent 35 years in So Cal. I will not ever return untill I have my rights reestablished. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that an Unconstitutional law is null and void and can not be enforced. That Police Officer took an oath to defend and support the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Does he not understand the english language or the Constitution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

James Buben

Good I hope they get it done!