"Our issue ... is that these are firearms that are among the most popular and commonly used rifles in America and in California," Hunter, the NRA spokeswoman, said. "I mean, there's millions of them, and they are the most common and popular rifles used for self-defense and for competition."
The suit argues that the laws passed last year are overly broad, banning dozens of popular rifles by classifying them as assault weapons. It also challenges the retroactivity of the laws and says a restriction on passing on the firearms to family members violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
In general, the suit argues that the gun features banned by the new laws -- such as pistol grips -- are actually there to make firearms safer to handle.
"When they expanded the definition, they based it on features that are actually ergonomic features, that make rifles easier to use and safer to use," Hunter said.
She said the laws don't make anyone safer, but would make otherwise law-abiding gun owners felons if they don't register their rifles by the end of the year. Hunter said that while semi-automatic rifles have been used in some high-profile crimes, "the vast majority of what gun activists call assault weapons are used by law-abiding people for self-defense and competition," not by criminals.
Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Marin) countered that the guns targeted by the laws are "military-style weapons with detachable magazines that have been used to murder countless Americans."
"These have been extraordinarily sad, tragic events that continue to occur," said Levine, who wrote the Assembly bill. "Gun deaths are preventable."
He said the laws simply closed a loophole in earlier gun control measures that the gun industry exploited. And, Levine accused the NRA of waiting to file the suit until it had a more sympathetic U.S. Supreme Court under President Trump.
"It was a cynical ploy by the gun lobby to undermine laws to protect innocent people," Levine said of the timing. "They plotted to wait until they had a Supreme Court stacked in their favor."
In a statement, the NRA stated that the lawsuit "seeks to have the courts declare the (gun laws) unconstitutional because the ill-conceived law will do nothing to stop terrorists or violent criminals, and infringes on the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment."
The group added that the suit is one of many "challenging other aspects of the unconstitutional laws passed last year," that will be filed in the coming weeks.
Levine predicted that the state will prevail in court.