California firearms ruling: Federal judge overturns state ban on assault weapons, compares AR-15 to Swiss army knife
Assault weapons have been banned in California since 1989, according to the ruling. The law has been updated several times since its adoption.
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of national defense weapon and national defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling. “Firearms considered to be ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular and modern rifles.”
In his ruling, the judge also criticized the news media, writing: “One must be forgiven if one is persuaded by the news and other media that the nation is inundated with deadly AR assault rifles. -15. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and the facts matter. “
Judge Benitez has already spoken out against other state restrictions on firearms. Last year, he ruled that California’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. It also rescinded the state’s restriction on remote purchases of firearm ammunition.
California authorities agree to appeal decision
Comparison of the AR-15 to a camper-favorite all-round pocket knife drew sharp criticism from California officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom, who called the AR-15 a “weapon of war.” .
Newsom added, “We are not backing down from this fight, and we will continue to push for common sense gun laws that will save lives.”
The decision and the injunction are suspended for 30 days, during which time the Attorney General can appeal and request a stay from the Court of Appeal.
“There is no solid basis in law, in fact or in common sense to equate assault rifles with Swiss Army knives – especially on Armed Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities, ”his statement said.
A White House spokesperson said in a statement: “The courts have repeatedly held that a ban on assault weapons does not violate the Second Amendment, which is limited. large capacity weapons and magazines. “
The families of the victims react
Fred Guttenberg, a gun safety activist whose daughter was killed in the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, denounced the judge’s comparison.
“My daughter is in a cemetery because a Swiss army knife was not used, because it was an AR-15,” he said. “If a Swiss Army Knife were used, my daughter and most of these other children and adults would be alive today.”
Guttenberg also called Benitez a “liar” and “militant judge”.
“You are a liar and your opinion is written using exact gun lobby language. These are not new words. These are not new expressions. These are not new expressions,” he said. -he declares. “You took the language of the gun lobby to write this opinion.”
Asked about his reaction to Guttenberg’s comments, Benitez told CNN in an email that he was “prohibited from commenting publicly on ongoing matters.”
Also on Saturday, Richard Martinez, whose son was killed in a mass shooting in California in 2014, spoke to CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield and dismissed the judge’s finding that assault weapons like the AR-15 are “fairly ordinary, popular and modern rifles.”
“It’s outrageous,” Martinez told CNN. “This is wrong. Assault weapons were designed by the military to kill people, to kill a lot of people, to kill a lot of people quickly. These types of AR-15 style weapons are modeled after the military versions, and they function in much the same way as weapons used by the military. “
Weldon called the judge’s decision “grossly irresponsible”, adding that there was no reason for assault weapons “to be in the hands of ordinary citizens.”
“Look at how many people in our country are suffering from trauma caused by gun violence,” she added.
“He compared the popular AR-15 rifle to a Swiss army knife in his decision, which is a false equivalence and an insult to common sense,” she told CNN. “I am sure that everyone who has lost a loved one to gun violence or who has been threatened or injured by a gun immediately shrank from such a blunt comparison.”
Supporters of the 2nd Amendment celebrate
Gun rights advocates were quick to celebrate Friday’s decision.
Calling the state’s current law “tyrannical,” the Coalition for Firearms Policy for Firearms said it was a first step in “restoring” human rights. use of firearms across the country.
“In his order today, Judge Benitez ruled that what millions of Americans already know to be true: the bans on so-called ‘assault weapons’ are unconstitutional and cannot stand,” he said. said PFC President Brandon Combs. “This historic victory for individual freedom is just the beginning, and PFC will continue to aggressively challenge these laws across the United States. We look forward to continuing this challenge before the Ninth Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court. . “
The National Rifle Association called the judge’s decision “well reasoned and principled” and said it “demonstrates the importance of appointing judges who accurately apply the original meaning of our Constitution.”
“Justice Benitez pointed out what all gun owners know: These types of restrictive gun laws don’t make anyone safer and don’t infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans. We look forward to the positive impact this decision will have on the current and future Second Amendment. case, ”NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said in a statement to CNN.
CNN’s Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.