California's Assault Weapons Ban Declared Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

CA ban on assault weapons
Loading... 91 view(s)
California's Assault Weapons Ban Declared Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

In a triumphant moment for Second Amendment advocates, US District Judge Roger T. Benitez of San Diego has struck down California's long-standing prohibition on assault weapons.

This brave decision reignites a vital discussion, emphasizing the foundational American principle of the right to bear arms and its crucial role in ensuring public safety.

Historical Background

California's restrictive (now-overturned) statute can be traced back to 1989, making the state of California the first in the US to put restrictions on assault weapons.

The legislative action was prompted by a singular tragic school shooting that claimed five lives.

The wide-ranging ban on assault rifles sought to undermine the rights of millions of law-abiding Californians and challenge the freedoms protected under the Second Amendment by imposing a ban on various semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns.

Details of the Groundbreaking Ruling

Judge Benitez, an astute appointee of former President George W. Bush, identified the law for what it truly was: an "excessive" encroachment on the constitutional rights of Californians.

Invoking the foundational Supreme Court case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, he asserted the importance of preserving historical firearm norms in tandem with the Second Amendment.

In his written judgment, Benitez stated, "In response to the unlawful use by a minority, California's approach is to disarm its vast law-abiding majority.

This reactive stance has always been constitutionally flawed."

He further highlighted that despite the potential misuse by wrongdoers, many residents use these weapons responsibly for self-defense.

Drawing from America's rich history, the judge paralleled the AR-15 with the Bowie knives of the past, illustrating that tools of self-defense, however potentially powerful, are deeply woven into the fabric of American freedom.

Public Response

Some state authorities have been vocal in their dissent on the judge’s decision. Governor Gavin Newsom termed the decision a "blatant affront to all mass shooting survivors and their kin."

Additionally, California Attorney General Rob Bonta branded the ruling as "reckless," swiftly registering an appeal.

He reinforced the state's stance that such weapons should remain off the streets.

Conversely, the verdict has been celebrated by pro-gun activists. John Dillon, who represented several plaintiffs, praised the ruling's constitutional grounding.

Similarly, Cody J. Wisniewski from The Firearms Policy Coalition interpreted the decision as a triumph and reaffirmation of the Second Amendment.

AR15 Ban in California

What Lies Ahead

Judge Benitez, consistent in his defense of constitutional rights, has previously championed the rights of Californians against overreaching gun control measures having previously annulled restrictions on large-capacity magazines and obligatory background checks for ammunition sales.

As the state mulls over its next steps, California stands as a testament to the enduring struggle between over-regulation and individual freedoms.

The ban may be active for now, but with such a momentous ruling, the winds of change are palpable. Additionally, the beacon of the Second Amendment shines brighter, guiding the way forward.

Appendix: Overview of California's Assault Weapons Law

California law currently bans certain assault weapons by specific type, series, and model and also by the firearm’s general characteristics as set forth in the three categories below. (Pen. Code, § 30510.)

California law also generally prohibits the sale of large-capacity magazines (i.e., magazines able to accept more than ten rounds). (Pen. Code, § 32310.)

Category One
California bans assault weapons by type, series, and model.

For example, California bans the following assault weapons by name: Beretta AR-70, Springfield Armory BM59 and SAR-48, Steyer AUG, Sterling MK-6, and the Bushmaster Assault Rifle. (Pen. Code, § 30510.)

These are often referred to as Category One assault weapons.

Category Two
California law bans firearm models that are variations of the AK or AR-15, with only minor differences from those two models. (Pen. Code, § 30510 subds.(a)(1), (f); see Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, § 5499
[listing the banned AK and AR-15 variations].)

These are often referred to as Category Two assault weapons.

It is important to note that Category One and Category Two assault weapons are banned regardless of whether they have a Category Three characteristic as mentioned below.

Category Three
California law bans assault weapons by general characteristics—Category Three. Pursuant to Penal Code § 30515, an assault weapon includes any of the following:

Rifles

  • A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine but has any one of the following:
    (A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon
    (B) A thumbhole stock
    (C) A folding or telescoping stock
    (D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher
    (E) A flash suppressor
    (F) A forward pistol grip
  • A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  • A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.

Pistols

  • A semiautomatic pistol that does not have a fixed magazine but has any one of the following:
    (A) A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer
    (B) A second handgrip
    (C) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon without burning the bearer's hand, except a slide that encloses the barrel
    (D) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.
  • A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

Shotguns

  • A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:
    (A) A folding or telescoping stock
    (B) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip.
  • A semiautomatic shotgun that does not have a fixed magazine.
  • Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

Other Firearms

  • A semiautomatic centerfire firearm that is not a rifle, pistol, or shotgun, that does not have a fixed magazine, but that has any one of the following:
    (A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon
    (B) A thumbhole stock
    (C) A folding or telescoping stock
    (D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher
    (E) A flash suppressor
    (F) A forward pistol grip
    (G) A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer
    (H) A second handgrip
    (I) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon without burning the bearer's hand, except a slide that encloses the barrel
    (J) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.
  • A semiautomatic centerfire firearm that is not a rifle, pistol, or shotgun, that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  • A semiautomatic centerfire firearm that is not a rifle, pistol, or shotgun, that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.

For more information regarding 'Assault Weapons Laws (California and Federal Law)', please visit the official Office of the Attorney General website. 

Additional California 2A News

For more information on Second Amendment Rights and recent legislation updates (specifically for California), check out our recent article on Duncan v Bonta: Federal Judge Benitez Strikes Down California’s Magazine Ban.

Comments
Leave your comment
Your email address will not be published