Challenging Arrests for Assault Gun Lookalikes

California Attorney General Kamala Harris
California AG Kamala Harris

Two gun owners arrested for possession of assault weapon lookalikes cannot force the state Attorney General to direct police to avoid arresting people with those weapons.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston last week refused to issue an order that would have directed Attorney General Kamala Harris to send bulletins to police that guns with “bullet buttons” are not illegal assault rifles.

The gun owners, Mark Haynie and Brendan Richardcs were arrested in Pleasanton and Rohnert Park for carrying assault weapons in 2009 and 2010.  But the rifles had a “bullet button,” which makes the magazine of the rifle detachable.  The  type of rifle is not listed in California as an assault rifle and thus not illegal.

Haynie had to pay $6,000 to a bail bondsman to be released and Richards spend six days in jail and paid $1,400 to a bondsman.  In addition, the Calguns Foundation, which joined in the suit, spent $11,000 on Richards’ legal defense.

They argued that they fear rearrest unless Harris issues the directive to law enforcement.

The Second Amendment Foundation Inc. also joined in the suit in support of both men.

“Because Haynie and Richardss do not demonstrate that they are ‘’realistically threatened by a repetition’ of their experiences…. They do not meet the requirements for standing to seek an order compelling DOJ to issue a directive to prevent wrongful arrests,” wrote Illston.

She called it “mere speculation” that they would have another encounter with police.

Illston did give both men until Nov. 4 if they wish to file an amended complaint. 

Case:  Haynie v. Harris, No. C10-1255SI

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