In the judicial system I exist essentially in three worlds simultaneously. The vast majority of the time I serve as a lawyer and counsel. Occasionally, I provide advice for other attorneys on firearms laws and regulations to better assist their clients… and every so often, I get to serve as an expert witness.
Frankly, the last one is perhaps my favorite role… but it does come with some “interesting” aspects. Awhile back I was asked to provide expert testimony in a federal case. This was “pre-Bruin”, but my analysis essentially was that the defendants had not committed anything even resembling a crime. I wrote my report, and the Assistant U.S. Attorney tried to have me excluded from the case.
One of his complaints:
“Mr. Lieberman is a criminal defense attorney and is biased against the government.”
Of course I am! We all should be! More importantly, he admittedly was relying on his own “expert witness” who is a field agent with BATFE… don’t think he is a tad biased?
The other one… and this was my favorite:
“Mr. Lieberman has a blog where he regularly espouses antigovernment views.”
Good Lord… I don’t even know where to begin with that.
But honestly, my own history is really not the gravamen of this particular blog. Instead, I want to focus on another “expert witness” who recently filed a report on behalf of Attorney General Bonta in the case of Rupp v Bonta.
(Rupp v Bonta is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and deals with the California assault weapons laws.)
In the post-Bruin world the State needs to prove that regulating “assault weapons” (a nebulous term at best) is consistent with the history, text, and tradition of the United States in 1791 at the time of the ratification. (It is actually a slightly more nuanced analysis that also deals with similar regulations at the time of the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868… but we don’t really need to go there for this discussion.)
For reasons that are entirely unclear, Bonta decided to hire an expert witness to bypass all of that legal nonsense and simply articulate that “AR-15s are bad” and “no one outside of the military should have them”.
So… let me introduce you to COL Craig Tucker (USMC Ret.).
COL Tucker has some impressive credentials. From his declaration we learned he commanded 22 different Marine and Army battalions in Iraq. “[He] has fired a Colt AR-15 5.56 rifle and the Smith and Wesson 5.56 AR rifle.” He also states, “I have extensive experience with the AK-47, having been on the receiving end of hundreds of 7.62 rounds.”
Who knew a regimental commander would have so much combat experience! Cool!
So… what does COL Tucker have to teach us about the AR-15?
Well, on page five, line four of his declaration COL Tucker proclaims the AR-15, like the M4 is an “offensive combat weapon system!” (emphasis added). Who knew the soldiers who guard military equipment (using the M4), and are told that their use of force against someone trying to steal the equipment, can only be justified if they feel their lives are in danger, essentially “defensive” are being given “offensive” weapons to perform their “defensive” tasks. Sac re bleu!
But it gets better…
On the same page (5) at line 18 we get this little gem:
“The AR-15 and M4 are both designed to fire a .223 round that tumbles upon hitting flesh and rips thru [sic] the human body. A single round is capable of severing the upper body from the lower body, or decapitation. The round is designed to kill, not wound, and BOTH THE AR-15 AND M4 CONTAIN BARREL RIFLING TO MAKE THE ROUND TUMBLE UPON IMPACT AND CAUSE MORE SEVERE INJURY. (Emphasis added… because the last statement is so profoundly stupid I wanted to write it in all caps.)
Let’s unpack this, shall we?
First, in his upper clause, he suggests that the .223 round can sever the upper and lower body! Then he states the rifling of the barrel makes the round tumble on impact to cause “more severe injury”… more “severe injury” than having the upper body and lower body separated?!?!
Then let’s talk about that whole “rifling” thing.
Stating that the rifling of a barrel makes the round tumble on impact is like saying that a quarterback throws a football with a spin to make it harder for the receiver to catch. Rifle barreling affects external ballistics, not terminal ballistics (unless theoretically the barrel has no rifling). The COL should know this… if he doesn’t, he is not qualified to be an expert.
He also discusses magazines and pistol grips.
The ability to quickly change a magazine he makes short work of, but essentially suggests that it is only viable in a military context.
With the pistol grip he completely falls apart.
According to the COL on page six, line 19, “the pistol grip allows the rifleman to pull the rifle into her shoulder with each shot, an action which increases stock weld, reduces semi-automatic/automatic recoil, and reduces barrel rise.”
Has this guy ever actually fired an AR-15???
Barrel rise (if managed properly) is done with your support hand and body position. What the pistol grip does do is effectively allow you to safely control the firearm during non-shooting events, like charging the chamber, and doing a magazine exchange.
If you can stomach it, you can read his report here:
Otherwise, I believe COL Tucker has entered and exited the conversation providing about as little illumination as one would expect from an expert witness hired by the State of California.