California appeals after judge overturns decades-old assault weapons ban


California on Thursday appealed a judge’s ruling overturning the decades-old assault weapons ban, saying it was an outlier compared to at least six others federal decisions and an attempt to bring it to the conservative US Supreme Court.

State Attorney General Rob Bonta filed the three-page appeal with the San Francisco Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals following the ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez last Friday.

Bonta argued that the 32-year-old law was necessary “to protect the safety of Californians,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

He will ask the court for a stay so that the ban remains in effect during the appeal process.

Benitez ruled the ban violated the Second Amendment and deprived law-abiding gun owners of common firearms readily available in other states. “Under no heightened level of control, the law cannot survive,” he said in his ruling.

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He also controversially compared the AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army Knife, calling it “the perfect combination of national defense weapon and national defense equipment. Good for home and battle.”

San Francisco general trauma surgeon Dr. Andre Campbell disagreed with Benitez’s assessment.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announces that the state is appealing a recent decision by a federal judge to overturn a ban on assault weapons at a press conference in San Francisco on Thursday 10 June 2021. He was joined by Robyn Thomas of Law Giffords Center, Dr Andre Campbell of San Francisco General Hospital and the Mayor of San Francisco London Breed.  (Associated press)

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announces that the state is appealing a recent decision by a federal judge to overturn a ban on assault weapons at a press conference in San Francisco on Thursday 10 June 2021. He was joined by Robyn Thomas of Law Giffords Center, Dr Andre Campbell of San Francisco General Hospital and the Mayor of San Francisco London Breed. (Associated press)

“An AR-15 is a weapon of mass destruction … used in warfare,” Campbell told hospital when the call was announced. It “causes absolute devastation in the human body. It is as if a bomb has exploded in the patient’s tissues.”

Governor Gavin Newsom denounced Benitez as “an icy ideologue. He is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association gun lobby.”

“We have to call this judge federal,” Newsom continued. “It will continue to do damage, mark my word. This is a very targeted program to work with this judge, where the decision is already made before it is even presented, who writes ‘press releases’ to the name of the gun lobby. “

The Firearms Policy Coalition, which led the plaintiffs who won in the trial, condemned the governor’s “outrageous and callous personal attacks” on the judge.

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“Newsom’s verbal assaults on a long-time respected member of the judiciary demonstrate his deep and continued disrespect for the rule of law, justice, the Constitution and the human rights of California citizens,” the group said.

“Newsom’s verbal assaults on a long-time respected member of the judiciary demonstrates his deep and continuing disrespect for the rule of law, the judiciary, the Constitution and the human rights of California citizens.”

– Firearms Policy Coalition

The state is already appealing Benitez’s 2017 ruling against the state’s nearly two-decade ban on the sale and purchase of magazines containing more than 10 bullets and his ruling of the year latest blocking a 2019 California law requiring a background check for anyone purchasing ammunition.

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California first banned specific brands of weapons in 1989 after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Stockton killed five children and injured more than two dozen more. The state has updated the law several times since then and overall it has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

“The state’s desire to continue to enforce its ban should not override the fundamental rights of law-abiding gun owners,” the Firearms Policy Coalition said. He argued that the AR-15s are no more than other state-licensed firearms.

The move could have implications outside of California, where six other states and Washington, DC have similar assault weapon bans, according to the Times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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