California’s Assault Rifle Ban Overturned

In a stunning decision issued June 4, 2021 U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez overturned California’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons. Judge Benitez said “Under no level of heightened scrutiny can the law survive.” He issued an injunction against enforcement of the law but stayed it for 30 days to grant state Attorney General Rob Bonta time to appeal.

Benitez disagreed with the state that similar assault weapon restrictions have previously been upheld by six other territorial division and appeals courts. “This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,” the ruling said. “One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by journalism et al. that the state is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, don’t support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”

Unlike military weapons, the semi-automatic AR15 rifle can only fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, and they are legal in 41 states.

The lawsuit filed by the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee, California Gun Rights Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition is among several by gun advocacy groups challenging California’s firearms laws, which are among the strictest within the nation

In his 94-page ruling, Judge Benitez spoke favorably of modern weapons, and said they were overwhelmingly used for legal reasons. The entire 94 page ruling can be viewed here.