SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego federal judge today overturned
California's three-decades-old ban on assault weapons for the second time in
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, who has frequently ruled in favor
of firearm advocates seeking to overturn state laws governing guns and
ammunition, issued an injunction Thursday prohibiting state officials from
enforcing the ban.
In a written ruling, the judge stated that officials are seeking to
prohibit individuals from acquiring guns used commonly in mass shootings and
other criminal activities. But Benitez ruled such a ban infringes on the Second
Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
``We hear constantly about mass shootings for days and weeks and on
anniversaries,'' Benitez wrote. ``But how often do we celebrate the saving of
the life of Jane Doe because she was able to use a semi-automatic weapon to
defend herself and her family from attackers? Are the lives of Jane, John, and
Junior Doe worth any less than others? Are they less important?''
The judge also stated that what officials describe as assault weapons
are ``no more dangerous than other arms the state does not ban. The banned arms
are just modern versions of rifles, shotguns, and pistols.''
Benitez gave the California Attorney General's Office 10 days to seek
a stay of the injunction, and on Thursday afternoon, the office announced it
had filed a notice of appeal.
``Weapons of war have no place on California's streets,'' California
Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. ``This has been state law in
California for decades, and we will continue to fight for our authority to keep
our citizens safe from firearms that cause mass casualties. In the meantime,
assault weapons remain unlawful for purchase, transfer, or possession in
Cody J. Wisniewski of The Firearms Policy Coalition, one of the
plaintiffs in a San Diego lawsuit that led to Benitez's ruling, said in a
statement, ``Today's opinion is yet another thorough demonstration of the
unconstitutional nature of these types of bans on constitutionally protected
arms. We're elated that the court has recognized that California's ban flies
directly in the face of peaceable individuals' constitutionally protected right
to keep and bear arms, and we look forward to continuing to demonstrate that
point in courtrooms in California and across the country.''
Benitez previously overturned the ban in 2021. Though the state
appealed, the case was sent back down to Benitez following the Supreme Court's
ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, which
altered the standard by which firearms-related cases could be analyzed.
The judge also ruled last month against California's ban on gun
magazines that hold more than 10 bullets and previously struck down a state law
requiring background checks for ammunition purchases.
Benitez's pro-gun rulings led Gov. Gavin Newsom to publicly describe
the judge as ``a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby and the National
In a statement issued following Thursday's ruling, Newsom said,
``Judge Benitez is hellbent on making it more dangerous for our kids to go to
school, for families to go to the mall or to attend a place of worship. We are
working with Attorney General Rob Bonta to fight this extreme and logically
incoherent ruling and keep California safer, but we should not have to go get
Judge Benitez overturned every time he decides to write a love letter to the
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