SAN DIEGO — U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez overturned California’s three-decade ban on assault weapons Friday, saying it violates the Second Amendment. The lawsuit was filed by the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee, California Gun Rights Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition.
“Under no level of heightened scrutiny can the law survive,” Benitez said before issuing a permanent injunction that takes effect in 30 days, Fox News reported.
Benitez compared the AR-15 rifle—restricted in California since 1989—to a Swiss Army knife, saying it’s “a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.” In his ruling, he said the state’s definition of illegal military-style rifles prohibits firearms allowed in other states, which deprives California gun owners of their Second Amendment rights.
“One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles,” Benitez said in the ruling, referring to AR-15s as “ordinary guns” in comparison to bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns that he said should only be used in the military. “The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”
Benitez—who is a Cuban immigrant nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2003—noted there are currently an estimated 185,569 assault weapons registered in California despite the ban in a state that has the strictest gun laws in the nation, according to Fox.
California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom was unhappy with the decision, and the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta said they will appeal the ruling.