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California officials condemn ruling over assault weapons ban

Families of mass shooting victims gun control advocate and California officials They condemned a federal judge for rejecting California’s 30-year-old assault weapons ban. Both the manner in which the judge justified his decision on Friday. and their fears may affect pushing to weaken gun laws

District Judge Roger Benitez, U.S. District Judge has compared the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to the Swiss Army knife in considering an unconstitutional ban. by calling it “Good for both the home and the battlefield.”


Benitez, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush and served in the Southern District of California. It has issued a permanent ban on law enforcement, but put it on hold for 30 days to give the state a chance to appeal.

California is one of seven states. including Washington, D.C., which banned assault weapons following the Brady Campaign to Prevention Gun Violence.

In his 94-page ruling, Benitez wrote that California prohibits its citizens from possessing weapons that are permitted in most other states and by the U.S. Supreme Court. Armed rights advocates praised the verdict.

“This is the most intense and detailed judicial commentary on this issue ever,” said Dave Kopel, an assistant professor of constitutional law at the University of Denver and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. This case was the only challenge to go to trial. This gave judges a larger factual database to pull from, he said.

State Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta called the decision a “fundamental flaws” and said he would appeal.

“There is no legal basis, fact, or common sense to compare an assault rifle to a Swiss Army knife. Especially on gun violence awareness day and after the latest shooting in our California community,” Bonta said in a statement.

last month A gunman opened fire in a light rail in San Jose. Killed 9 co-workers and died from apparent gunshot wounds by himself.

Officials said he was armed with three 9mm semi-automatic pistols and 32 high-capacity magazines loaded with additional ammunition.

The AR-15 was used in some of the most dangerous mass shootings in the country. This includes an attack at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people in 2016 and another in Las Vegas that killed 58 people in 2017.

“I can assure you that if Swiss Army knives were used at Pulse we would have had a birthday party for my best friend last week,” shooting survivor Brandon Wolf wrote on Twitter. “Not surveillance.”

Chris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence, said the verdict put her at double risk.

“I have two daughters. And they read dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, and it’s like that,” she said. “It can’t be true. No one who has ever been a heart-pounding thinker can compare a Swiss Army knife to an AR-15.”

Brown said the firearm was designed to crush enemies at 50 yards.

“It’s not something you keep at your bedside to protect yourself,” she said. “It’s a weapon of war.”

in response to multiple shootings on his watch President Biden announced in April that His administration will pursue greater gun regulations. with some proposed measures similar to those already in the books in California.

This includes proposals that require background checks for so-called ghost guns. This will be required in California starting in 2024, and the state model “red flag” statute can apply. The law would allow family members or law enforcement to apply for a court order to remove guns from persons endangering themselves or others in nineteen states, including California. has passed such law

“Today’s decision poses a direct threat to the public safety and lives of innocent Californians,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday in a statement. “The fact that this judge compared the AR-15 – a weapon of warfare used on the battlefield – to a Swiss Army knife completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face for families who have lost loved ones. with this weapon.”

The ruling comes in response to an August 2019 lawsuit by the pro-gun group. This includes the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee. California Gun Rights Foundation Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition

The plaintiffs also include three men in San Diego County who said they legally owned a rifle or pistol and wanted to use a high-capacity magazine in it but couldn’t because of doing so. It turns them into illegal assault weapons under California statutes.

Where governments try to limit people’s constitutional rights, such as guarantees made by the Second Amendment, the government has the burden of proving that such restrictions provide important public benefits, such as reducing mass shootings, Kopel said.

“You’re weighing how much of a burden you’re putting on people who follow the law. compared to how much you reduce the problem you are trying to address,” he said. In this case, he said, the judge found “We didn’t get a reduction in the number of massacres. and burden the innocent Just like someone who wants to have this type of firearm for self-defense in the home.”

Other legal experts The judge’s reasoning was found to be uninteresting.

Susan Estrich, a professor at the USC Gould School of Law, said: “The judge in this case To declare a ban on assault weapons is a failed policy experiment. and therefore unconstitutional. is contributing to the decision of his own policy.” “His real reasoning undermines his own conclusions.”

California became the first state to ban the sale of assault weapons in 1989 in response to the Stockton elementary school shooting. This resulted in the deaths of five students. The ban, signed into law by Republican George Deukmejian, has been revised several times since then to broaden the definition of what constitutes an attack weapon.

Every time there is an injunction, those who own a firearm before being banned must register. Benitez said there were about 185,569 such weapons registered with the state.

in response to a challenge to California’s law shortly after it was enacted. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the 2nd Amendment was only a federal restriction. Not the state government, Kopel said.

That changed in 2010 when the US Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that the 2nd Amendment applies to cities and states. That helped pave the way for this decision, he said.

California law defines an assault weapon as a semi-automatic rifle or pistol that can accept a detachable magazine and is equipped with some munitions that could be fatal or concealable. This includes a pinhole or folding stock for the rifle. and a second grip or threaded barrel for handguns. Firearms with fixed magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are legally considered an assault weapon.

“The problem with ‘assault weapon’ is that it doesn’t have a true basic definition,” Kopel said. or any kind of gun that looks like a soldier.”

as the judge stated in his opinion that Some firearms considered assault weapons under California law are similar to non-guns, Kopel said.

For example, he said the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch rifle is very similar to the AR-15 in terms of the velocity it can load and fire and the type of ammunition used. but looks more traditional with stock made wood instead of black plastic and is not defined as a forbidden attack weapon.

“At the trial We present denial evidence that the term ‘Assault weapon’ is an arbitrary label often used by anti-firearms governments to ban constitutionally protected firearms,” said Attorney George. Lee of the Firearms Policy Group said in a statement “In the end State reasons for banning these firearms are irresistible.”

The state attorney general’s office argued that the weapon was more dangerous than any other firearm. And it has been misused in crime and mass shootings. Previously, the federal district and six other courts of appeals had applied similar assault weapons restrictions.

But the judge said firearms targeted by the ban were often used for legal purposes.

“This case is not about special weapons outside the scope of the Second Amendment,” he wrote. “The prohibited ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, mortars or machine guns.”

“In California Knife murders happen seven times more often than rifle kills,” he added.

The state also appealed two other rulings by Benitez: one in 2017 that overturned a ban on the purchase and sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and another in April last year that blocked a 2019 law requiring There is a background check to buy ammunition.

In the event of a ban on assault weapons The decision is almost certain to last more than 30 days pending appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and there is a good chance the court will issue a reverse order. Because of liberal tendencies, Estrich said.

“Ultimately,” she said, “the question is whether the U.S. Supreme Court, whose new conservative appointee is Do you see this as an opportunity to delve into the ban on assault weapons?”

That could contain dangerous gun control laws that are on the books across the country, Brown said.

“The Supreme Court overturning these types of laws designed to promote public safety has a very negative impact. Not only the ban on attack weapons. But for every public safety law we’ve ever created to control guns. Including the Brady Law,” she said, referring to a 1994 requirement that firearm buyers receive federal background checks.

“Yes, I am very worried about it.”

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