This is a challenge to California’s weapons ban. Judge Benitez used Heller, following the instructions of Bruen and decided the case for the plaintiffs (good guys).
An analysis of the state’s request for an emergency stay pending appeal shows the state in nearly full on panic.
It looks like this case has been up and down the ladder at least twice.
Judge Benitez gave the state 10 days to get a stay from the Ninth Circuit court. Theses are calendar days, per —Rules For Appellate Procedure (U.S.). This means that on the 29th of October 2023, the “Assault Weapons Ban” of California will be fully enjoined. People will once again be able to purchase rifles that have been banned for years.
Interestingly, they will not be able to purchase handguns that were excluded by the AWB. This is because none of the named AWB Pistols are on the handgun roster.
The state has filed for an emergency stay with the Ninth Circuit court.
To get a stay, the petitioner must meet the four Winters factors: the likelihood of success on the merits, irreparable injury, the balance of equity, and public interest.
In Baird v. Bonta, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court ‘s order.
The district court abused its discretion by improperly applying the preliminary injunction standard.
As noted above, proper analysis of a preliminary injunction motion requires a district court to examine the Winter factors. The first factor—likelihood of success on the merits—is the most important (and usually decisive) one in cases where a plaintiff brings a constitutional claim, including a Second Amendment claim. Bruen did not change this multifactor preliminary injunction test, and the district court therefore abused its discretion when it deliberately skipped any analysis of the first Winter factor.
—Mark Baird v. Rob Bonta, No. 23-15016, slip op. at 9 (9th Cir.)
What does this mean to us? It means that anytime anybody requests a stay within the Ninth Circuit, the court must look at the merits first. If the likelihood of success on the merits favors the
movement, then the other three factors are considered.
In a civil rights case, any abridgment or infringement of a constitutionally protected right is, by definition, an irreparable injury. The balance of equity favors the protection of constitutionally protected rights. There is no public interest in enforcing an unconstitutional law.
This means that if the
movement is based on a constitutional challenge, if the movement is likely to win on the merits, the other three factors favor the movement as well.
The state’s argument for a stay
They start with emotional blackmail.
These firearms are defined as assault weapons because of particular features that make them uniquely dangerous to the public and to law enforcement. The state has never actually established this with evidence.
From there, they explain that it is no big deal.
That a say is to
… simply suspend judicial alteration of the status quo.
In Heller, McDonald, Caetano, and Bruen there are some weak words in dicta. The state pulls all of them. The state claims that these weak phrases are the “critical lessons of [the Bruen] decision”. The state claims that the Supreme Court “emphasized” that the rights secured by the Second Amendment are not unlimited. “Not all weapons are presumptively protected”, “weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like — may be banned” are the other weak phrases that the state attempts to elevate to critical lesson status.
From there, the state moves forward, arguing that their particular issue needs not be a “dead ringer” and that a more “nuanced approach” is required because … reasons.
Of course, they claim that the findings of inferior district courts in different circuits also indicate that the state should win.
Text, History, and Tradition
The two prongs of Heller are, “Is the plain text of the Second Amendment implicated by the proposed conduct?”, and “Is there a history and tradition of regulation which is analogous with the current regulation?”
The first prong is upon the plaintiffs.
Are “assault” weapons arms? YES! They are called out as weapons! That is precisely the excuse the state is using to ban them. They are too good as weapons to allow The People to possess them.
What is the proposed conduct? To possess these arms. The Supreme Court stated in Heller that “possessing” is part of “keeping”. Thus, the conduct implicates the Second Amendment.
That is the end of the plaintiff’s burden.
The state now has the burden of proving that
it either not a protected arm, or of providing historical analogous regulations.
In order for an arm to be excluded from the protections of the Second Amendment, the arm must not be bearable OR it must be both dangerous AND unusual.
Under Heller, the Supreme Court found that if an arm is in common use, today, it is not unusual. The state must prove that the banned weapons are not common.
The state argues that the definition of “in common use” does not include possession. It only includes “in common use for self-defense”. Further, that “use for self-defense” means rounds fired. If that was still “common”, you can be sure that they would argue rounds fired and perp dead.
This is not the Supreme Court’s definition. It should not be accepted at any level.
Because the requirement is conjunctive, dangerous, AND unusual, the state loses this argument on the merits. That leaves “bearable”. The state has argued, unendingly, that “assault weapons” are particularly dangerous because they are easily bearable.
—Motion for Stay, Miller v. Bonta, No. 23-2979 (9th Cir.)
Double emphasis added.
“Based on the popularity” means “in common use for lawful purposes”. “Failed to give serious consideration to the State’s evidence” doesn’t mean what the state thinks it means. The state argues in use for self-defense only counts in cases where the firearm is fired. They depend on surveys conducted of newspapers and other media sources. They didn’t bother to pull statistics from their own collected data.
It is also the case that the Supreme Court has ruled that banning something, then claiming it is not commonly used to justify the ban, doesn’t work. The obvious answer to why it is not commonly used is because it is banned.
For the court to use a more “nuanced approach”, the state must prove that there is an unprecedented change in technology or societal change. What the state is whining about is that the district court didn’t agree with them.
The state does get it though,
Under the district court’s view, it appears that no state regulation banning any firearm would be “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” —id.
I missed something on the first read through: “irreparable harm” is missing. We know what the four Winter factors are, we know that the Ninth Circuit in Baird v. Bonta ruled that the Winter factors must be followed in order. To ignore the irreparable harm factor is improper.
The issue for the state is that denial of a Constitutionally Protected right is irreparable harm, to the plaintiffs. The state would have to show it was being harmed by the injunction in a way that is irreparable. The most the state can argue is that “assault weapons will flood into the state”. This is not a strong argument.
Instead, the state claims they will win on the merits by claiming the district court evaluated the evidence presented erroneously.
The state makes a powerful equitable consideration argument: Guns are bad, assault guns are super-duper bad. Bad people use assault guns.
—id. at 4
The Supreme Court set out in Heller that allowing The People some options while restricting others does not make the restriction Constitutional.
—District of Columbia v. Heller, 467 U.S. 837, 2818 (2008)
This is one of the core findings of the Heller opinion. The state can’t offer an alternative in law to the protected right. The government doesn’t get to decide what is common use, that is for The People to decide.
For the state to claim that their infringement is acceptable because they have given The Serfs an alternative flies directly in the face of Heller. If the concept of an alternative being good enough, there is nothing to stop the state from offering smaller and smaller alternatives.
The following quote is an example of the types of citations I observe in many infringing arguments. It is the equivalent of taking 25 words from forty hours of speeches, stringing them together to make it sound as if something were said that was not actually said.
—Motion for Stay at 13–14, Motion For Stay in Miller v. Bonta, No. 23-2979
Bruen did not announce new standards or even standards, they told the inferior courts to apply Heller correctly.
Take a careful look at this language:
plaintiffs must establish that the “textual elements” of the Second Amendment—the right to “keep and bear” protected “Arms”—cover their desired course of conduct.—id. at 13 The plaintiffs must establish that the item is an arm and that the conduct implicates the Second Amendment.
The plaintiffs do NOT have the burden to prove that the arm in question is protected by the Second Amendment, the state has the burden to prove that the arm is NOT protected. The plain text of the Second Amendment does not limit what arms are protected. The Supreme court has set the definition of what arms are under the Second Amendment.
Once the desired conduct implicates the Second Amendment, the burden shifts to the state to prove that the arm is not bearable, or “dangerous and unusual”, or that there is a history and tradition of regulations prohibiting the desired conduct.
It is not good enough to show a matching prohibition, the how and why must also match. That is to say, a regulation prohibiting arm storage in a particular location due to fire concerns is not a match in “why” to making that same class of locations “sensitive locations” out of fear of guns.
The state is real big on those other lower courts ruling for gun bans. They seem to feel that law is about popularity. The person with the most votes wins. That is not how the law works.
As a side observation, the state makes many citations to their experts’ declarations. Instead of citing the actual
regulation targeting specific types or characteristics of weapons, they instead cite the Spitzer Declaration.
Most of this motion is bad-mouthing Judge Benitez. He didn’t do it the way the state wanted him to. He didn’t do it the way these other district courts did. No Circuit Court would depend on the majority rule of inferior courts to decide a case.
The Circuit Court should take up the case, precisely because there is a split in inferior court decisions.
The language of the state makes it absolutely clear that the state understands exactly how bad Judge Beitez’s final judgement was for them. If his judgement stands, it means that there can be no gun bans.
It is wonderful to see the state in a panic.
This case might actually go better for The People than Duncan v. Bonta The en banc panel that took back Duncan was not involved with Miller. The three judge panel of Silverman, Nguyen, and R. Nelson might get the case back as a “comeback”. Even so, they are less likely to be as entrenched as the en banc panel.
It will be interesting to see if the state gets any sort of stay based on this low-quality submission.