California's 32-yr assault weapons ban overturned

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A federal judge has overturned California´s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, ruling that it violates the constitutional right to bear arms.

"Under no level of heightened scrutiny can the law survive", Benitez said on Friday. The judge issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of the ban but stayed his order for 30 days to give state Attorney General Rob Bonta time to appeal the court's decision.

"My daughter is in a cemetery because a Swiss Army Knife was not used, because it was an AR-15".

Barring them has proven the state's preservation of public safety. "We won't stand for it".

California Governor Gavin Newsom was outraged at the comparison and the legal decision overall.

In a preliminary ruling in September, Benitez said California's complicated legal definition of assault weapons can ensnare otherwise law-abiding gun owners with criminal penalties that among other things can strip them of their Second Amendment right to own firearms. "If a Swiss Army Knife were used, my daughter and most of those other kids and adults would be alive today".

For the AR-15 type rifle the answer is 'yes.' The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and keep the popular AR-15 rifle and its many variants do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense at home. "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, 554 USA 570 (2008) and United States v Miller, 307 US 174 (1939)". Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR15 type rifle.

"California may certainly conceive of a policy that a modern rifle is unsafe in the hands of a criminal, and that therefore it is good public policy to keep modern rifles out of the hands of every citizen".

Benitez stated that "the banned "assault weapons" are not bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns" which are "dangerous and exclusively useful for military purposes", while assault weapons are "fairly ordinary, popular, modern". "The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter". Twice as many modern rifles were sold the same year.

Benitez went on: "In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle".

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

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California laws prohibit the manufacture, use, or sale of an "assault weapon", defined as a semiautomatic rifle with certain characteristics such as a fixed magazine that has the capacity to hold more than 10 rounds.

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.

"Too many families across the nation have lost loved ones in shootings carried out with assault weapons".

Yet even in a mass shooting, more accuracy may not result in fewer victims. "Good for both home and battle", the judge wrote.

Yet Bonta's court filings do not reflect "a goal of preventing violence perpetrated against law-abiding citizens in their homes".

Guttenberg also called Benitez a "liar" and an "activist judge". Guns and ammunition in the hands of criminals, tyrants and terrorists are risky; guns in the hands of law-abiding responsible citizens are better. Governor Newsom also worked with the Legislature to accelerate the regulation of "ghost guns" to crack down on the use of untraceable firearms by criminals.

The judge noted that California's "arbitrary and capricious" ban on "assault weapons" appears rather ineffective.

"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 the FPC president, Brandon Combs. And Californians own an estimated 19.9 million firearms. "Instead, the firearms deemed "assault weapons" are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles".

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

While the Swiss Army knife comparison may seem jarring, it illustrates an important principle.

"Like Victor Hugo's Inspector Javert relentlessly searching for Jean Valjean, California continues to amend its statutes to prohibit more and more firearms", he wrote.

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