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Gun Laws That Do Not Make Sense,,, Literally!

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Article first appeared at Ammoland.com

Ammoland – California is playing the child’s game of “leapfrog” with New York and with other States that enact draconian firearms laws.

What do we mean by that? Just this: as one State Legislature drafts and enacts ever more draconian gun laws, the other States follow suit and attempt to do the first State, one better. Let’s see how this plays out.

The New York State Legislature in Albany, NY, rewrote the law defining the expression‘assault weapon.’ The Safe Act became effective on January 15, 2013 and was the de facto model for new antigun laws around the Country. The Safe Act was also the de facto model for Dianne Feinstein’s failed effort to enact a new federal assault weapons’ ban and ammunition ban in 2013. Fortunately, Republicans in Congress and the NRA stopped a federal “Safe Act” in its tracks.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, that took place on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, was the impetus for – actually the pretext for – implementation of new and highly restrictive gun and ammunition bans.

Notwithstanding oppressive gun restrictions in New York, the Safe Act changed and added yet ever more restrictive provisions to the New York Penal Code and to other Statutory Sections of the Consolidated Laws of New York.

The drafters of the Safe Act aimed to ban ever more types of guns. To make guns bans palatable to the public, the drafters of the Safe Act continued to use the artifice of rhetoric to create the illusion that some firearms were evil. They called these firearms “assault weapons.”

Once a firearm is defined as an ‘assault weapon,’ that firearm becomes, at the stroke of a pen, a “banned weapon.” Under present New York law, specifically, NY CLS Penal § 265.00(22)(a), firearms, namely, rifles and pistols that, one, are semi automatic in operation,two, can accept a detachable magazine and – if the first two necessary conditionsare met – then three, at least one of a specific set of features as prescribed in the NY CLS Penal § 265.00(22)(A). If all three conditions are met, then, under New York law, those firearms are, by virtue of a legal fiction, ‘assault weapons,’ and are, therefore, banned weapons.

Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle/Shotgun
Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle/Shotgun

Shotguns that are, one, semi automatic in operation and, two, have at least one of a particular set of characteristics as set forth in the NY Safe Act are also ‘assault weapons.’ And the New York Safe Act adds a fourth category of “assault weapons.” Shotguns that utilize a revolving cylinder are, by definition, also ‘assault weapons’ and therefore banned weapons.

At the moment, typical handguns that utilize a revolving cylinder, and rifles that utilize a revolving cylinder – rare as they are – are not, under present New York law, defined as‘assault weapons,’ but who can say what the future holds if antigun legislators, such as New York Senator Jeff Klein, continue to control the politics of gun ownership and possession and draft ever more heinous gun laws.

Let us now compare the definitions for rifles that are also ‘assault weapons,’ as those definitions appear in both the California Penal Code and the New York Penal Code, because CA A.B. 1663, throws a wrench into the mix specifically in respect to rifles.

In the New York Penal Code rifles that are also assault weapons must, as we have said, be semi automatic in operation and also be capable of accepting a detachable magazine.These are necessary conditions that must be fulfilled before a weapon can be considered an‘assault weapon’ in New York. If and only if a rifle is semi automatic in operation and is capable of accepting a detachable magazine, then NY CLS Penal § 265.00(22)(A), says that we look for additional characteristics that a rifle might have if it is to be deemed an‘assault weapon’ under New York law. So, then, if the rifle has at least one additional characteristic, for example, a second handgrip, or a flash suppressor, or a folding or telescoping stock, or a bayonet mount, then the rifle is, under, NY CLS Penal § 265.00(22)(A), an assault weapon.Otherwise it isn’t.

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Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1), at the moment, reads much like NY CLS Penal § 265.00(22)(A). Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1) sets forth three requirements for rifles that are also assault weapons, two, of which, like New York, are necessary conditions that must be fulfilled: one,the rifle must be centerfire semi automatic in operation, and two, the rifle must have the capacity to accept a detachable magazine. If those necessary conditions are met, then we look to see if the rifle has at least one of several listed features such as, inter alia, a pistol grip, a flash suppressor, a folding or telescoping stock, or thumbhole stock. If these three conditions are met, the firearm in question is an “assault weapon” and, therefore, a banned weapon under California law. Thus, we see that Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1), as it presently reads, mirrors NY CLS Penal § 265.00(22)(a) in every critical respect.

Even before CA A.B. 1663 was drafted, California “did New York one better.” Under present California law, rifles that are also assault weapons include, under Cal Pen Code 30515(a)(2), “A semi automatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.”

Recall, under New York law, rifles that are also assault weapons must be semi automatic in operation and be capable of accepting a detachable magazine only. So, under present New York law, no rifle is an assault weapon that happens to have a non-detachable, i.e., fixed, magazine. A rifle might have a magazine that can hold 100 rounds of ammunition. If that magazine is fixed to the rifle, that is to say, if that magazine cannot be readily detached from the body of the rifle, the rifle is not an ‘assault weapon’ under present New York law. In California, on the other hand, under Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(2), a rifle that has a fixed magazine that is capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition is an ‘assault weapon.’ So, in the California Penal Code, unlike the New York Penal Code, a semi automatic rifle may, under the appropriate circumstances, based on definition, be deemed an assault weapon if the rifle utilizes either a detachable or fixed ammunition magazine.

Now, what would CA A.B. 1663 do, if enacted?

CA A.B. 1663 modifies Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1), which would be amended to read: a rifle is an assault weapon if that weapon is a “semi automatic centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept no more than 10 rounds.”

[ WTF ] Do you understand the meaning of that sentence? Read it again. In fact, read it several times, but don’t be upset if you continue to scratch your head in bewilderment as to the meaning of that sentence; for, the meaning of that sentence isn’t clear to us either.

The California legislators, who drafted that sentence – making liberal use of negatives – apparently derive pleasure from torturing the English language as much as they enjoy torturing those California residents and U.S. citizens who choose to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1), as drafted by the Legislature, is inherently ambiguous. That was obviously the intention of its drafters.

Under one interpretation – a more conservative interpretation – a rifle is an assault weapon,in California, if it is a centerfire semi automatic weapon that can accept a detachable magazine that is capable of holding more than ten rounds. However, under aliberal interpretation of the ambiguous sentence, a centerfire semi automatic rifle is anassault weapon that can accept a detachable magazine, regardless of the number of rounds of ammunition the magazine might be capable of holding. An argument can be made for either interpretation and, if CA A.B. 1663 is enacted, and thereafter challenged, it will take a court of law to decide which interpretation is correct.

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Circular Logic Warning
Circular Logic Warning

You will note, too, something else about the definition of ‘assault weapon’ as promulgated in the revised Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1). In the revised Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1),there is something missing. In the original version of that statutory section, a centerfire semi automatic rifle is not deemed to be an assault weapon,unless it have at least one of several enumerated characteristics. That requirement has been eliminated in the revision.

Essentially, the new Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1) – if CA A.B. 1663 is enacted and codified into law – is the obverse of Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(2), which reads that a rifle is an assault weapon if it is “A semi automatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.”

But, the idea here is that, under a liberal interpretation of the ambiguous sentence – as the new Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1) reads – the number of rounds that a detachable magazine can hold is not decisive or even relevant to the issue whether a centerfire semi automatic rifle is an assault weapon. So long as a rifle is capable of accepting a detachable  magazine – even if the magazine is capable of holding only one round – that will be sufficient to transform the rifle into an assault weapon, and, therefore, a banned weapon, in California.

Let’s distill all of this. So, if CA A.B. 1663, becomes law a rifle is also an assault weapon,and therefore, a banned weapon in California under two scenarios:

Under Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(1), as amended by CA A.B. 1663, a rifle is an assault weapon if it is a centerfire, semi automatic, and it is capable of accepting a detachable magazine, regardless of the number of rounds that the rifle’s detachable magazine may hold(under a liberal interpretation of the amended statute). And, under Cal Pen Code § 30515(a)(2)the language which remains unchanged – a rifle is an assault weapon if it is a centerfire, semi automatic and has a fixed magazine that is capable of holding more than ten rounds.

In the continuing game of “leapfrog,” antigun forces in the New York Legislature may be, even now, drafting new legislation, redefining and refining the definition of ‘assault weapon’to “improve upon” California’s assault weapons fetish.

If right of the American people to keep and bear arms, as embodied in the Second Amendment, is to survive in the 21st Century, it is incumbent upon each American to defend that right against the forces intent on destroying it, just as the Second Amendment was, itself, meant to defend the sanctity of each individual law-abiding American.

The Second Amendment protects us so long as we protect it.

About The Arbalest Quarrel:

Arbalest Group created `The Arbalest Quarrel’ website for a special purpose. That purpose is to educate the American public about recent Federal and State firearms control legislation. No other website, to our knowledge, provides as deep an analysis or as thorough an analysis. Arbalest Group offers this information free.

For more information, visit: www.arbalestquarrel.com.

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