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Name: People v. Bocanegra (2023) 90 Cal.App.5th 1236
Case #: C095234
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/28/2023

California’s prohibition of possession of assault weapons (Pen. Code, § 30605) does not violate the Second Amendment as construed by District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) 554 U.S. 570. Armed with an AR-15 style rifle and two other firearms, defendant drove from San Jose to his former friend’s house in Manteca and fired shots into the occupied home. A jury found defendant guilty of numerous firearm-related charges, including possession of an assault weapon. On appeal, defendant argued that section 30605 violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms. Held: Affirmed on this point. The “core lawful purpose” of the Second Amendment is self-defense. The right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, but extends only to certain types of weapons. Like the military M-16 rifle at issue in Heller, an AR-15 style rifle is a “dangerous and unusual” weapon that, in California, is “not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.” Thus, under Heller, it is not protected by the Second Amendment. Further, there is no interpretation of the facts that suggests defendant here was acting as a law-abiding citizen who possessed his AR-15 rifle for lawful purposes, such as self-defense. The court distinguished N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen (2022) __ U.S. __ [213 L.Ed.2d 387], on which defendant relied. Bruen did not create a new test applicable to Second Amendment challenges to firearm regulations, as defendant asserted, but rather applied and clarified the standard set forth in Heller.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: