Gov. Newsom aims to reverse federal judge’s decision to overturn assault rifle ban

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Rob Bonta have announced that the state has filed an appeal of a San Diego federal judge’s ruling last week that overturned California’s three-decades old ban on assault weapons.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego ruled Friday that the state’s definition of illegal military-style rifles unlawfully deprives law-abiding Californians of weapons commonly allowed in most other states.

Judge Roger Benitez called the three-decades old ban a “failed experiment.”

The judge wrote in the 94-page ruling, “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, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller and United States v. Miller. Yet, the state of California makes it a crime to have an AR-15-type rifle. Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.”

California first restricted assault weapons in 1989, with multiple updates to the law since then. California’s attorney general argued that assault weapons are more dangerous than other firearms and are disproportionately used in crimes and mass shootings. But Benitez said the guns are overwhelmingly owned for legal purposes.

Newsom and AG Bonta held a press conference Thursday to detail their opposition to the judge’s decision, and made an emotional plea for people to support his effort, pointing to the families who have lost loved ones in mass shootings.

But, critics point to the Constitution which provides citizens the right to bear arms. The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

During the press conference announcing the appeal, Governor Newsom called the federal judge’s decision “shameful” and a “direct threat to public safety.”

Newsom continued, “California’s assault weapons ban has saved lives, and we refuse to let these weapons of war back onto our streets. This ban was enacted after a shooting that took the lives of five schoolchildren and injured countless more, and my administration will do whatever it takes to continue protecting Californians and leading the nation in gun safety laws. This is a fight California will never back down from, period.”

“Equating firearms that have been used in many of the deadliest mass shootings in this country with Swiss Army knives has no basis in law or fact,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The ban on assault weapons will not put an end to all gun violence, but it is one important tool the state has to protect the safety of Californians while also respecting the rights of law-abiding residents who choose to possess firearms. We have appealed the district court’s ruling and will continue our defense of the state’s commonsense gun laws.”

Other speakers acknowledged the ban was hard to enforce because of our “porous state borders,” but made no mention of the porous border between the US-Mexico, or President Biden’s immediate decision to stop construction of the border wall, a tool many border patrol agents have credited with helping them prevent smuggling.

RELATED STORY: Federal judge overturns California ban on assault weapons, state plans appeal

Categories: Local San Diego News