A federal choose in California on Friday overturned the state’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, which he known as a “failed experiment,” prompting a pointy retort from the state’s governor.
California prohibited the sale of assault weapons in 1989. The legislation was challenged in a go well with filed in 2019 towards the state’s legal professional normal by plaintiffs together with James Miller, a California resident, and the San Diego County Gun Owners, a political motion committee.
The choose, Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, wrote that sections of the state’s penal code that outlined assault weapons and restricted their use had been “hereby declared unconstitutional and shall be enjoined.”
But the choose mentioned he had granted a 30-day keep of the ruling on the request of Attorney General Rob Bonta, a transfer that might permit Mr. Bonta to enchantment it.
Judge Benitez wrote that the case was about “what should be a muscular constitutional right and whether a state can force a gun policy choice that impinges on that right with a 30-year-old failed experiment.”
“It should be an easy question and answer,” Judge Benitez, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, continued. “Government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where constitutional rights are concerned.”
The choose wrote that the firearms banned underneath the state’s legislation weren’t “bazookas, howitzers or machine guns,” however fairly “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”
In an announcement late Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom known as the ruling “a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians.”
Mr. Newsom additionally criticized the opening traces of Judge Benitez’s determination, wherein he wrote that, like a Swiss Army knife, the AR-15 assault rifle “is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”
The AR-15 re-entered the American gun market in 2004 after the tip of a federal assault weapons ban. It has a nationwide following amongst gun house owners, nevertheless it has additionally been utilized in mass shootings and vilified by its critics as a weapon of mass homicide.
Mr. Newsom wrote that evaluating the gun to a Swiss Army 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.”
In a separate assertion, Mr. Bonta known as Judge Benitez’s determination “fundamentally flawed” and vowed to enchantment it.
“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,” he mentioned.
Gun rights activists celebrated.
Brandon Combs, the president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, a gaggle in Sacramento that helped convey the lawsuit to courtroom, mentioned in an announcement that the ruling “held what millions of Americans already know to be true: Bans on so-called ‘assault weapons’ are unconstitutional and cannot stand.”
Alan M. Gottlieb, founding father of the Second Amendment Foundation, one other group that was concerned within the lawsuit, mentioned in an announcement that the choose’s ruling had “shredded California gun control laws regarding modern semiautomatic rifles.”
“It is clear the judge did his homework on this ruling, and we are delighted with the outcome,” added Mr. Gottlieb, whose group is predicated in Washington State.
Judge Benitez was appointed as a district courtroom choose in 2003 and confirmed by the Senate the next yr.
In 2017, he blocked a brand new California legislation that might have banned magazines of greater than 10 rounds. A 3-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld his ruling final yr in a break up determination, however the appeals courtroom mentioned in February that an 11-judge panel would rehear the case.
Some critics of the choose’s newest ruling, together with Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the California Assembly, famous an irony: It was handed down on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, an annual mission organized by teams that advocate for harder gun legal guidelines.
The ruling is “alarming and wrong,” mentioned Ari Freilich, the state coverage director on the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gaggle led by Gabrielle Giffords, the previous consultant from Arizona who was shot a decade in the past. “It’s also an insult to families across the nation, on today of all days, who have seen in the most painful way possible how dangerous and deadly assault weapons are.”
Michael Levenson, Thomas Fuller and Shawn Hubler contributed reporting.