San Diego, CA

California state officials react to federal judge's ruling against the state's assault weapon ban

Ed Walsh
Hon. Roger T. BenitezUS District Court

A federal judge based in San Diego overturned California's decades-old assault weapons ban on Friday. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled that the state law violated the Second Amendment and violated the rights of Californians who are able to obtain the same type of guns allowed in other states. Judge Benitez said that the evidence shows that the guns made illegal in California are overwhelmingly used for lawful purposes.

"This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection," Judge Benitez wrote in the 94-page decision. "The banned “assault weapons” are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes. Instead, the firearms deemed “assault weapons” are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. 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."

"The characterization of a finding as one of “fact” or “law” is not controlling," the judge continued. "To the extent that a finding is characterized as one of “law” but is more properly characterized as one of “fact” (or vice versa), substance prevails over form. Hyperbole, and facts matter. Federal Bureau of Investigation murder statistics do not track assault rifles, but they do show that killing by knife attack is far more common than murder by any kind of rifle. In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle. For example, according to F.B.I. statistics for 2019, California saw 252 people murdered with a knife, while 34 people were killed with some type of rifle – not necessarily an AR-15.2 A Californian is three times more likely to be murdered by an attacker’s bare hands, fists, or feet, than by his rifle.3 In 2018, the statistics were even more lopsided as California saw only 24 murders by some type of rifle.4 The same pattern can be observed across the nation."

That ruling did not sit well with state officials.

“Today’s decision is a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period," Governor Gavin Newsom stated. "As the son of a judge, I grew up with deep respect for the judicial process and the importance of a judge’s ability to make impartial fact-based rulings, but the fact that this judge compared the AR-15 – a weapon of war that’s used on the battlefield – 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. We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives."

California Attorney General Rob Bonta blasted the decision stating: "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.”

Comments / 1

Published by

News of interest impacting the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

San Francisco, CA

More from Ed Walsh

Comments / 0