California ‘assault weapons’ ban overturned by federal judge

 October 20, 2023

U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez overturned California's “assault weapons” prohibition Thursday but is delaying its enforcement for 10 days to allow AG Rob Bonta to appeal.

The Los Angeles Times says California banned “assault weapons” in 1989. Since then, the restriction has been tightened to include more firearm kinds and features, as Breitbart News reported.

James Miller, Wendy Hauffen, Neil Rutherford, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition, among others, contend that misuse of semiautomatic rifles like AR-15s is well-publicized, but defensive acts are not.

Benitez Agreement

The judge's opinion stated, "This Court understands the unquestionable tragedy caused by lawless individuals using modern semi-automatic guns or any gun to injure or kill innocent men, women, or children."

"Their lives are important. But are their lives any more important than Jane Doe’s or the lives of her family? We hear constantly about mass shootings for days and weeks and on anniversaries."

"But how often do we celebrate the saving of the life of Jane Doe because she was able to use a semi-automatic weapon to defend herself and her family from attackers? Are the lives of Jane, John, and Junior Doe worth any less than others? Are they less important?"

Benitez noted that California politicians call semiautomatics “assault weapons,” but they are rarely used in crime: "In California, while modern semiautomatics are not rare, they are rarely the problem."

"For example, in 2022, only three 'assault weapons' were used in violent California crimes, according to the Attorney General’s annual report, 'Firearms Used in the Commission of Crimes.'"

The judge went on to say "For the preceding year, the report announced that only two assault weapons were used in violent crimes, while the 2020 report identified zero 'assault weapons' used."

"Other government homicide statistics do not track “assault rifles,” but they do show that killing by knife attack is far more common than homicide by any kind of rifle."

More of the Judge's Opinion

Benitez brought Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's opinion in Heller (2008) into the conversation, saying, "Justice Alito took pains to point out that this is a conjunctive test. 'As the per curiam opinion recognizes, this is a conjunctive test:"

"'A weapon may not be banned unless it is both dangerous and unusual . . . If Heller tells us anything, it is that firearms cannot be categorically prohibited just because they are dangerous.”

Judge Benitez went on to point out that "In Heller, the Supreme Court said the firearms that are protected are firearms “that are not dangerous and unusual and typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes like self-defense.”

He concluded by ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and ordering that the California "assault weapons" prohibition not be enforced. Benitez, however, suspended his own decision for ten days to allow AG Bonta the opportunity to file an appeal if he so chooses.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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