California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an appeal Thursday to protect the state’s ban on assault weapons, arguing that U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez’s decision is “a legal outlier.”
The judge granted Mr. Bonta a 30-day stay to give time for an appeal. During the stay, assault weapons remain illegal.
Judge Benitez overturned California’s 32-year ban on assault weapons June 4, calling the law unconstitutional and ineffective in preventing mass shootings.
He opened his statement by likening an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to a Swiss army knife, as both serve as a “home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” The comparison was criticized by defendants of the ban in a news conference Thursday.
Mattie Scott, who lost her son to gun violence in 1996, spoke during the state attorney general’s briefing. She is also the California president of Brady, a gun control organization.
“It is insulting to read his decision where he called the kind of weapon that killed my son akin to a pocket knife,” she said. “Pocket knives were not invented to kill as many people as possible.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared angry, pounding his index finger into the podium, as he called out the date Judge Benitez published his decision: National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
“This was done on a day when we were reflecting on the lives of thousands of families that were destroyed because of gun violence, and he chooses to put the decision out on that day,” Gov. Newsom said.
Robyn Thomas, executive director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, criticized the judge for repeated rulings against gun control.
“The decision literally has no foundational support other than the fact that I don’t believe that this judge would uphold a single gun law anywhere, ever,” she said.
Attorney General Bonta requested in his appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the stay be extended until the case’s ruling.
“These assault weapons are more appropriate for military use than for self-defense, a fact that has been upheld in court and over and over,” he said during Thursday’s press conference.