Federal judge overturns California's 30-year assault weapons ban, saying it infringes on Second Amendment

A close-up of the AR-15 rifle. San Diego-based federal Judge Roger Benitez wrote in his 94-page ruling, “Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.” Photo by Shutterstock.

Gun control will likely be another issue dominating the next year and a half, both on the campaign trail and in the courts. In California on Friday, federal Judge Roger Benitez threw out this state’s 30-year-old assault weapons ban, which was inspired by a horrific mass shooting in 1989. The ban was the first of its kind in the nation.

“He says that California’s law just goes too far, that it infringes on gun owners’ Second Amendment rights in a way that's overbroad and too heavy-handed. … He's saying this AR-15, that because it's such an ordinary gun used by ordinary people in ordinary circumstances, that you can't infringe on Second Amendment rights and prohibit it,” explains Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School.

She notes that the AR-15 was subject to the federal assault weapons ban, and it only went back on the market in 2004.

She points out that on page 47 of Benitez’s opinion, he erroneously claims, “More people have died from the COVID-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California.”

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