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Name: People v. James
Case #: C057995
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/02/2009
Summary

Penal Code section 12280 prohibiting possession of an assault weapon or .50 caliber BMG rifle does not prohibit conduct protected under the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, as defined in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) 554 U.S. ___ [171 L.Ed.2d 657]. Appellant, convicted of unlawful possession of an assault weapon and unlawful possession of a .50 caliber BMG rifle (Pen. Code sec. 12280, subds. (b) and (c)) and other weapons offenses, appealed his conviction, arguing that the statute violated his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as defined in Heller. The legislative history of the statute reveals that it was passed because the unusually dangerous nature of such weapons posed a grave threat to public safety and national security. Heller declared that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is not unlimited and does not necessarily sanction the right of the citizen to protect himself in any sort of confrontation with any type of weapon. Referring to the entire language of the Second Amendment, the Heller court limited the protection of the amendment to those types of weapons typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes. Because of the nature of the weapons prohibited by the California statute, they are not the type typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes but, instead, are weapons of war, and possession of them for individual use can be prohibited by the government without violating the Second Amendment.