By: Teresa Mull
Never say never!
That’s the lesson learned from California this week, where a federal judge ruled the state’s so-called “assault weapons” ban, which has been on the books for 32 years, is unconstitutional.
In a decision that is a slap in the face to the Biden administration, U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled (you can read the full decision here):
“Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.
“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of second amendment protection. The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers or machine guns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes.
“This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes. 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. In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle.”
The fight isn’t over quite yet, however. Benitez issued a 30-day stay in his decision, “during which time the Attorney General may appeal and seek a stay from the Court of Appeals."
California AG Rob Bonta is certainly intending to appeal, announcing in a statement:
“Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing 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. We need to take action to end gun violence now. We will fight this ruling and continue to advocate for and defend common sense gun laws that will save lives.”
Gun rights advocates are touting the ruling as a positive sign for the Second Amendment.
Said Chris Stone, National Association for Gun Rights Communications Director:
“This ruling is a great step for the state of California, and for all of the United States. Law-abiding gun owners know that so-called ‘assault weapons’ are protected under the Second Amendment, but states like California have been unduly depriving citizens of their right to keep and bear arms. We are hopeful that the courts will uphold the decision by judge Benitez – and our legal foundation is looking at all avenues to make sure California’s gun ban is permanently undone.”
“Seeing a federal judge declare California’s despotic gun ban as unconstitutional was welcome news,” Erich Pratt, Senior Vice President of Gun Owners of America, told GPM. “The state’s 32-year ban on commonly owned firearms is a horrific infringement upon the people’s right to keep and bear arms. This decision shows that regardless of whether a gun ban has been on the books for several decades, gun rights supporters are looking to challenge and repeal every anti-gun infringement. And if need be, we will take these cases to the U.S. Supreme Court where we likely have a slim pro-gun majority that is waiting to uphold our Second Amendment rights.”
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.