California state court of appeals says no. [Full decision here]. This issue will almost certainly see a lot more litigation; this opinion is clearly based on Heller and yet bases its result on invalid assumptions. .50 caliber weapons are declared to be "unusual and dangerous", and "assault weapons" have "such a high rate of fire and capacity for firepower that it's 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."
In truth, of course, .50 caliber weapons are only moderately unusual; they are very popular for long-distance sport shooters and have been manufactured for civilian use for years. There are almost no crimes committed with these rifles, so in practice, their manufacture for civilian sale is not especially dangerous.
The situation with assault weapons is similar. Assault weapons are simply ordinary semiautomatic rifles that happen to be designed for something other than hunting. They are used and possessed peacefully by millions of people, as well as being useful for self-defense in the home.
It would be very difficult to conceive of a way that assault weapons would not pass the "common use" test from Heller, at least when before an honest judicial panel that has been presented with the proper evidence.
UPDATE: Not actually the 9th Circuit, but a state court instead. Oops. Must read closer.
This entry was published Wed Jun 03 07:25:58 CDT 2009 by TriggerFinger
and last updated 2009-06-03 07:25:58.0.