SAI Files Lawsuit Against D.C. ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

What is and is not Constitutional is going to continue to be a hotbed of debates going forward as pro-liberty forces collide with progressive anti-American pinkos. One thing that’s going to be a big stick in the anti-liberty camp’s craw is that a left of center justice all but ensured we’ll win every so-called “assault weapons” ban case going forward. That said, the Second Amendment Institute recently filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia challenging their prohibition on one of America’s most commonly held arms.


The case, Yzaguirre v. District of Columbia, was filed in the District Court of the District Of Columbia on June 25, 2024. The complaint seeks to enjoin the District from enforcing its “total and complete prohibition on a substantial set of semiautomatic firearms, a common and popular category of arms.” The complaint observed that Sotomayor’s dissent in Garland v. Cargill acknowledged that “‘semiautomatic rifles’ like the AR-15 are ‘commonly available.’”

“Mr. Yzaguirre previously sought to register an AR-15 that he purchased as a Delaware resident to keep in his home for self-defense,” a release stated. “The Metropolitan Police Department denied his registration application, citing the District’s ban on so-called ‘assault weapons.’ Under District law, a person cannot possess a firearm unless it is registered.”

Mr. Yzaguirre said his involvement in the case “underscores the critical nature of this case in defending the fundamental rights of American citizens to own modern effective firearms for personal defense and other lawful purposes such as target shooting, competitive shooting sports and hunting.”

Yzaguirre is being litigated by attorney George L. Lyon Jr.; a member of SAI’s board of directors who has litigated many firearms related cases in the District over the years, recently helping Dick Heller secure a win in a so-called “ghost gun” ban challenge. Joining Lyon in representing Yzaguirre is Edward M. Wenger of Holzman Vogel Baran Torchinsky and Josefiak, PLLC.


“We filed this lawsuit to vindicate the right of the residents of the District to own commonly possessed firearms for their self-protection. The District ban on so called “assault weapons” prevents District residents from owning the most widely held rifle in the nation’s history. That simply cannot stand under the Second Amendment,” said Attorney George Lyon.

“Such bans like DC’s infringe upon the constitutional liberties guaranteed to all Americans under the Second Amendment and directly contravene decisions of the United States Supreme Court, including the 2008 Heller decision.” Moreover “the Supreme Court says such bans must be based on history and tradition. The Heller decision said there is no history or tradition in banning firearms in common use. There are more than 24 million AR-15s and similar rifles owned by Americans. They are undoubtedly in common use and thus cannot be prohibited.”

Why the District keeps such bans in effect is beyond me. This is the type of litigation the anti-liberty crowd is not likely happy to see being launched and I wouldn’t be surprised if they move to change their regulations to moot the case. Either way, there’s a likely win for Yzaguirre, his co-plaintiffs, Lyon, and Wenger on the horizon.


The ban and regulation of such arms goes patently against the principles that our founding fathers subscribed to, and there’s no such historical analogue that even comes close to prohibiting such commonly held arms. Finding analogues is going to be a very difficult burden to meet considering the private ownership of cannon by citizens was not regulated at the time of our founding, 1791, and in many cases such regulations don’t exist even today.

The brief notes:

The right to keep and bear common firearms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights cannot be subjected to laws and regulations that prohibit ordinary, law-abiding citizens from keeping and bearing common firearms–particularly when such schemes place these citizens under constant threat of criminal sanction for violating them.

The enshrinement of the right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment has necessarily taken such “policy choices off the table.”

Yet, this is precisely how the District’s law operates, completely prohibiting ordinary, law-abiding citizens from exercising their rights in the District with respect to this large class of commonly possessed firearms while placing them under constant threat of criminal sanction.


This is an exciting time to watch statues, rules, and laws regulating the Second Amendment get challenged. I wish the SAI luck in their endeavors. I'll be keeping a close eye on how this case progresses and will report back with any updates.

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