Miller v. Bonta (Miller v. Becerra)
Supporting California’s Assault Weapon Control Act and Protecting States’ Abilities to Regulate Military-Style Weaponry.
Case Information: Miller v. Bonta, No. 3:19-cv-01537-BEN-JLB (S.D. Cal. Motion for reconsideration filed October 20, 2022).
At Issue: In August 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a 2021 district court decision finding California’s Assault Weapon Control Act (“the Act”) unconstitutional and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111 (2022)(“Bruen”). Plaintiffs challenging the Act’s constitutionality argue they have a Second Amendment right to possess assault weapons, including military-style semiautomatic assault rifles, like those used to carry out numerous mass shootings in California and other states. Because Bruen significantly changed the analysis required to evaluate the constitutionality of laws under the Second Amendment, we filed a motion seeking reconsideration of the court’s 2020 decision denying us leave to participate as amicus curiae in the case.
Our Motion: We ask the court to reconsider its pre-Bruen decision denying our request to participate as amicus curiae, and to grant us leave to file an amicus brief to aid the court in determining whether the Act violates Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights. We argue that Bruen marked an intervening change in the law that controls this case, and the changed analysis now requires extensive, specialized expertise in past and modern gun regulations beyond the knowledge needed when the Court denied us amicus status in 2020. Under Bruen’s new Second Amendment test, courts must conduct an intensified analysis of historical gun laws to determine if a challenged regulation has a “representative historical analogue.” Our motion argues that we are even better situated to aid the court in light of the changed circumstances and notes that our expertise has already prompted several federal courts to grant us leave to aid in a Bruen analysis as amicus curiae.
Case Information:Miller v. Becerra, No. 3:19-cv-01537 (S.D. Cal. motion for leave to file amicus curiae brief filed January 24, 2020; motion denied August 3, 2020).
At Issue: In 2019, plaintiffs filed a Second Amendment challenge to California’s Assault Weapon Control Act (“the Act”). Plaintiffs claim the Act violates the Second Amendment because they have a constitutional right to possess military-style semiautomatic assault rifles like those used to carry out the Newtown, Orlando, Las Vegas, and Parkland mass shootings (among many others); assault handguns like the one used to carry out the Dayton and 101 California shootings; and combat-grade assault shotguns.
In 2021, the Court issued a judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor, finding the Act unconstitutional. However, in August 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111 (2022).
Our Brief: We argue that the California legislature acted constitutionally by prohibiting a subset of semiautomatic rifles, assault pistols, and assault shotguns whose uniquely dangerous features facilitate criminal use and mass killings. Our proposed brief argues that the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court and other courts, does not protect a right to own weapons that were designed for a battlefield and not for responsible self-defense in the home. Indeed, all other courts that have considered challenges to laws banning assault weapons since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Heller and McDonald have upheld those laws. We also argue that the expert declaration used as a basis for many of the Plaintiffs’ arguments should be given no weight considering that its author has been widely discredited for flawed methodology in his research, failing to provide data and evidence to support his claims, failure to publish in peer-reviewed journals, and ethical violations committed in an attempt to defend his work from criticism.