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Federal Judge Overturns California Assault Weapons Ban, Governor Slams ‘Threat to Public Safety’

State Attorney General wins 30-day stay to appeal decision reversing 32-year old ban

A federal judge has ruled that California’s decade-old assault weapons ban is unconstitutional, calling it a “failed experiment.” In response, California Governor Gavin Newsom called the decision “a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians.”

But judge Roger T. Benitez of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California granted a 30-day stay so that California Attorney General Rob Bonta can appeal the ruling.

Benitez, a 2001 George W. Bush appointee, said that portions of California’s penal code pertaining to assault weapons are “hereby declared unconstitutional and shall be enjoined,” according to the New York Times. He further stated that the case concerned “what should be a muscular constitutional right and whether a state can force a gun policy choice that impinges on that right with a 30-year-old failed experiment.”

“It should be an easy question and answer. Government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where constitutional rights are concerned,” Benitez added.

Benitez didn’t explain what he meant by “failed experiment.” The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “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.” No court case has yet reconciled “well regulated militia” with “shall not be infringed.”

Benitez did however offer the curious suggestion that an AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon designed solely to kill quickly and in quantity, is analogous to a Swiss army knife, or as he put it, “a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”

“Overturning CA’s assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence,” Newsom said in a statement Friday night. “This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won’t stand for it.”

In a separate statement attributed to the Office of the Governor, Newsom said “We won’t back down & we will fight for common sense gun laws.”