Federal judge overturns California’s ban on assault weapons and likens AR-15 to Swiss Army knife

Assault weapons have been banned in California since 1989, in accordance to the ruling. The legislation has been up to date a number of occasions because it was initially handed.

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez mentioned within the ruling. “Firearms deemed as ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”

In his ruling, the judge additionally criticized the information media, writing, “One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”

According to 2019 FBI data, the handgun was probably the most generally used weapon in murders and accounted for six,368 victims in 2019. Knives or reducing devices accounted for 1,476 murders, rifles accounted for 364 homicide victims, and “firearms, type not stated” accounted for 3,281 victims, the information exhibits.
Still, an AR-15 style rifle has been the weapon of alternative for probably the most violent mass killings in fashionable historical past, together with in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh; the Route 91 Harvest musical festival in Las Vegas; a bloodbath at a church in Texas; the Pulse nightclub in Orlando; a high school in Parkland, Florida; and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Judge Benitez has beforehand dominated in opposition to different state firearm restrictions. Last 12 months, he dominated California’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. He additionally struck down the state’s restriction on distant purchases of gun ammunition.

California officers pledge to enchantment ruling

The comparability of the AR-15 to a flexible pocket knife favored by campers drew sharp criticism from California officers together with Gov. Gavin Newsom, who known as the AR-15 a “weapon of war.”

The comparability, he mentioned in a statement, “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.”

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 ruling and injunction are stayed for 30 days, throughout which period the lawyer common might enchantment and search a keep from the Court of Appeals.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta mentioned he might be interesting the ruling. “Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it,” Bonta said in a news release.

“There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with swiss army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities,” his assertion mentioned.

A White House spokesperson mentioned in an announcement, “Courts have again and again held that an assault weapons ban does not violate the Second Amendment, which is limited. The President continues to press for commonsense laws to reduce gun violence – including a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.”

Victims’ households react

Fred Guttenberg, a gun security activist whose daughter was killed within the Stoneman Douglas High School taking pictures in 2018, denounced the judge’s comparability.

“My daughter is in a cemetery because a Swiss Army Knife was not used, because it was an AR-15,” he mentioned. “If a Swiss Army Knife were used, my daughter and most of those other kids and adults would be alive today.”

Guttenberg additionally known as Benitez a “liar” and an “activist judge.”

“You are a liar, and your opinion is written utilizing the exact language of the gun lobby. These are not new words. These are not new phrases. They are not new expressions,” he mentioned. “You took the language from the gun lobby to write this opinion.”

Asked for his response on Guttenberg’s remarks, Benitez instructed CNN in an e mail he’s “prohibited from publicly commenting on pending cases.”

Also on Saturday, Richard Martinez, whose son was killed in a 2014 California mass taking pictures, spoke to CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield and rejected the judge’s conclusion that assault weapons just like the AR-15 are “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”

“It’s outrageous,” Martinez instructed CNN. “It is wrong. Assault weapons were designed by the military to kill people, to kill a lot of people, to kill a lot of people quickly. These type of AR-15-style weapons are modeled after the military versions, and they function pretty much the same way as the weapons used by the military.”

“It is a devastating blow to survivors and all the families,” mentioned Judy Weldon, a instructor who survived a 1989 shooting at an elementary school in Stockton, California. “His whole ruling is terribly flawed.”

Weldon known as the judge’s determination “grossly irresponsible,” including there was no purpose for assault weapons “to be in the hands of ordinary citizens.”

“Look at how many people in our country are dealing with trauma from gun violence,” she added.

Tina Meins, whose father was killed within the mass shooting in San Bernardino in 2015, mentioned the ache she and different households have suffered due to these weapons should not have to proceed.

“He likened in his ruling the popular AR-15 rifle to a Swiss army knife, which is a false equivalence and insult to common sense,” she instructed CNN. “I’m certain that every person that’s lost a loved one to gun violence or has been threatened or wounded by a gun immediately recoiled at such an obtuse comparison.”

2nd Amendment advocates have fun

Gun rights advocates rapidly celebrated Friday’s ruling.

Calling the prevailing state legislation “tyrannical,” the pro-gun Firearms Policy Coalition mentioned it was a primary step in “restoring” gun rights throughout the nation.

“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 cannot stand,” mentioned FPC President Brandon Combs. “This historic victory for individual liberty is just the beginning, and FPC will continue to aggressively challenge these laws throughout the United States. We look forward to continuing this challenge at the Ninth Circuit and, should it be necessary, the Supreme Court.”

The National Rifle Association known as the judge’s determination “well-reasoned and principled” and mentioned it “demonstrates the importance of appointing judges who accurately apply the original meaning of our Constitution.”

“Judge Benitez highlighted what all gun owners know: these types of restrictive gun laws don’t make anyone safer and infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans. We look forward to the positive impact this ruling will have on current and future Second Amendment cases,” NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide mentioned in an announcement to CNN.

CNN’s Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.

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