Federal judge overturns California’s ban on assault weapons
A federal judge overturned California’s longtime ban on assault weapons on Friday in a ruling that likened the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife.
Assault weapons have been banned in California since 1989, according to the ruling. The law has been updated several times since it was originally passed, CNN reports.
According to the ruling by US District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego, the assault weapons ban violates the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms and deprives Californians of owning assault-style weapons commonly allowed in other states. Benitez issued a permanent injunction Friday so the law cannot be enforced.
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling. “Firearms deemed as ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”
In his ruling, the judge also criticized the news media, writing, “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.”
According to 2019 FBI data, the handgun was the most commonly used weapon in murders and accounted for 6,368 victims in 2019. Knives or cutting instruments accounted for 1,476 murders, rifles accounted for 364 murder victims, and “firearms, type not stated” accounted for 3,281 victims, the data shows.
Still, an AR-15 style rifle has been the weapon of choice for the most violent mass killings in modern history, including in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh; the Route 91 Harvest musical festival in Las Vegas; a massacre at a church in Texas; the Pulse nightclub in Orlando; a high school in Parkland, Florida; and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Judge Benitez has previously ruled against other state firearm restrictions, according to CNN. Last year, he ruled California’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. He also struck down the state’s restriction on remote purchases of gun ammunition.
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