The left’s constant push for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” has been met with fierce backlash over concerns about the ambiguity of the term as well as infringement on the rights spelled out in the Second Amendment.
Nevertheless, California has maintained such a restriction for decades — but it is now facing a legal threat in federal court.
According to a lengthy ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, constitutional protections outweigh the belief of California lawmakers that taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens will somehow reduce gun violence in the state.
“California’s answer to the criminal misuse of a few is to disarm its many good residents,” the judge concluded. “That knee-jerk reaction is constitutionally untenable, just as it was 250 years ago.”
Benitez described the Second Amendment as “a shield from government imposition” like the law enacted in the Golden State.
His ruling came in response to an ongoing court challenge from multiple plaintiffs, including a number of firearms advocacy organizations. Attorney John Dillon represented the plaintiffs and celebrated their victory in the wake of the recent district court decision.
Although he described Benitez’s decision as “constitutionally sound,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta blasted it as “dangerous and misguided,” vowing to file an appeal.
“Weapons of war have no place on California’s streets,” he declared. “This has been state law in California for decades, and we will continue to fight for our authority to keep our citizens safe from firearms that cause mass casualties. In the meantime, assault weapons remain unlawful for purchase, transfer, or possession in California.”
Judge Benitez has decided to invalidate California’s assault weapons ban.
This radical ruling — comparing an assault rifle to a bowie knife — is a direct insult to every victim of a mass shooting and their families.
California’s gun safety laws work and keep our families safer.… pic.twitter.com/UiQH8ALGkb
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) October 19, 2023
Dillon indicated that he remained committed to the fight to overturn the state prohibition.
“We will continue to fight for our Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights through any appeal until the State is forced to start respecting these rights,” he said.
The viability of the law has been in question since at least 2021 when Benitez initially struck down the ban and denounced it as a “failed experiment.”
He has previously taken aim at several other state gun-control laws, including in a decision last month that overturned California’s ban on gun magazines holding more than 10 rounds.