Warner BrothersWarner BrothersToday California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have expanded that state's definition of "assault weapons" to include any centerfire rifle with a detachable magazine, thereby recasting many popular hunting guns as tools of terror suitable only for mass murder. Here is the explanation Brown gave:

The State of Califomia already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, including bans on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

While the author's intent is to strengthen these restrictions, this bill goes much farther by banning any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. This ban covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training, and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms. Moreover, hundreds ofthousands of current gun owners would have to register their rifles as assault weapons and would be banned from selling or transferring them in the future....

I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights.

California started the legislative craze of banning guns based on "military-style" features back in 1989, and this latest iteration shows how utterly arbitrary such laws are. Since the term assault weapon has no independent meaning, its definition can be expanded indefinitely, ultimately covering the very sorts of guns that activists once said they had no intention of banning. Neither logic nor shame seems to impose any limit on this charade, although the Constitution does