Judge overturns California's assault weapon ban

  • Judge overturns California's assault weapon ban

Judge overturns California's assault weapon ban

California's three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, has been overturned by a federal judge that ruled it violates the constitutional right to bear arms.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California compared the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife in his ruling.

He also likened the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife, describing both as a "perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment".

He referenced the Supreme Court's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which broadly found that the Constitution protects Americans' rights to own guns. SUB2000 rifles, center, for sale at Hiram's Guns / Firearms Unknown store in El Cajon, California, U.S., on Monday, April 26, 2021. "Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional", Benitez wrote.

Assault weapons as defined by the law are more unsafe than other firearms and are disproportionately used in crimes, mass shootings and against law enforcement, with more resulting casualties, the state attorney general's office argued, and barring them "furthers the state's important public safety interests".

"Under no level of heightened scrutiny can the law survive", Benitez said.

Arguing the case before Friday's ruling, the plaintiffs" ruler George M Lee said: "The government can not ban the constitutionally-protected firearms at issue in this case.

Despite California's ban, there now are an estimated 185,569 assault weapons registered with the state, the judge said.

He then noted, "Modern rifles are popular. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes".

Assault weapons have been banned in California since 1989, according to the ruling.

Under § 30515 (a), a rifle is labeled an "assault weapon" if it is one of three principal types.

Back in 2017, Benitez reuled that the almost longtime ban on the sales and purchases of magazines holding more than 10 bullets. The third type is a semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.

In 2019, California resident James Miller and several state gun rights groups including the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee, California Gun Rights Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation, and Firearms Policy Coalition challenged the law in court.

"In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle", the judge said, claiming that the overturned ban had not "prevented mass shootings or attacks on law enforcement officers."

After handguns, modern rifles are probably the most popular firearms in America. "According to the Attorney General, 'assault weapons enable a shooter to fire more rounds rapidly in a given period with greater accuracy, increasing the likelihood that more individuals will be shot and suffer more numerous injuries.' The implied context is a mass shooting". "The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter".

Guttenberg also called Benitez a "liar" and an "activist judge".

"The banned assault weapons are not bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns". However, these prohibited guns, like all guns, can be used for ill or for good.

The National Rifle Association called the judge's decision "well-reasoned and principled" and said it "demonstrates the importance of appointing judges who accurately apply the original meaning of our Constitution".

Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed that the ruling "is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians".

"Today's decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it", Bonta said in a press release.

Newsom added: "We're not backing down from this fight, and we'll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives".

The decision comes as gun violence surges across the United States - and just over a week after a disgruntled, heavily-armed California public transit worker shot and killed nine people.

"In his order today, Judge Benitez held what millions of Americans already know to be true: Bans on so-called "assault weapons" are unconstitutional and can not stand", said Firearms Policy Coalition president Brandon Combs.