A federal judge overturned California’s 32-year old ban on assault weapons Friday, calling the state’s policy a “failed experiment.”
The judge, Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, said sections of the state’s penal code that defined and restricted assault weapons were “hereby declared unconstitutional and shall be enjoined.”
The ruling comes as a result of a suit that was filed in 2019 against the state’s attorney general.
In his statement, Mr. Benitez likened the Swiss Army Knife to the AR-15, calling it “a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”
“Firearms deemed as ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles,” he said in the statement.
Despite the ruling, updates to the law will not go into effect immediately, if at all. The judge allowed a 30-day stay of the ruling at the request of Attorney General Rob Bonta, which will allow Mr. Bonta the opportunity to appeal the judge’s decision.
The ruling prompted an angered response from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who called the ruling “a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians.”
“As the son of a judge, I grew up with deep respect for the judicial process and the importance of a judge’s ability to make impartial fact-based rulings, but the fact that this judge compared the AR-15 – a weapon of war that’s used on the battlefield – to a Swiss Army Knife completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement.
“We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives,” he added.
Mr. Bonta also issued a response, calling the decision “fundamentally flawed” and ensuring that he plans to send an appeal of the ruling to the state’s Court of Appeals.