Federal Judge Overturns California 'Assault Weapons' Ban, Gives Roaring Endorsement to the AR-15 Rifle
A federal judge struck down the state of California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons” on Friday, deeming the prohibition unconstitutional.
California bans certain guns for most people, such as the AR-15 platform of rifles, classifying the sporting rifles as weapons of war. That is in spite of the fact that such guns fire the same caliber ammunition as other weapons that are legal to own in the Golden State.
Late on Friday, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing California’s ban, according to The Associated Press.
Benitez actually compared AR-15 platform rifles to multi-purpose knives when he issued a 94-page ruling that was akin to an endorsement of such firearms.
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller,” the judge wrote. “Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR- 15 type rifle.
“Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional. Plaintiffs challenge a net of interlocking statutes which impose strict criminal restrictions on firearms that fall under California’s complex definition of the ignominious ‘assault weapon.’”
Benitez stated that any attempt to equate sporting rifles to weapons of war is “hyperbole.”
“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes,” he wrote. “Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes.”
The judge noted, citing FBI crime statistics, that in 2019, 252 people in California were killed by knives, while 34 people were killed “with some type of rifle — not necessarily an AR-15.”
“A Californian is three times more likely to be murdered by an attacker’s bare hands, fists, or feet, than by his rifle,” he added, noting that in 2018, “the statistics were even more lopsided as California saw only 24 murders by some type of rifle.”
“The same pattern can be observed across the nation,” Benitez wrote.
So-called “assault weapons” have been banned in the state since 1989. Benitez ultimately decided the state’s ban deprives Californians’ rights which residents in 41 other states currently enjoy.
Benitez gave California Attorney General Rob Bonta 30 days to appeal his decision.
The AP reported that Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom was quick to condemn the ruling.
Newsom said that comparing an AR-15 to a multi-purpose knife “completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon.”
“We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives,” Newsom added.
Overturning CA’s assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won’t stand for it. https://t.co/feL5BABTXa
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 5, 2021
The judge’s ruling was the result of a 2019 lawsuit brought by a coalition of pro-gun groups in California, including the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee, the California Gun Rights Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition.
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