State Watch

Federal appeals court puts judge’s ruling overturning California’s assault weapons ban on hold


A federal appeals court on Monday put a hold on a judge’s decision to overturn California’s ban on assault weapons.

In early June, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled that California’s 30-year ban on assault weapons was unconstitutional. In his ruling, Benitez compared the weapons to a “Swiss Army Knife.”

Less than a week after Benitez issued his ruling, California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) announced that he had filed an appeal to Benitez’s decision.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the decision to place a hold on Benitez’s ruling was issued by a panel of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges Barry G. Silverman, Jacqueline Nguyen and Ryan D. Nelson.

After the panel’s decision was issued, Bonta tweeted, “This leaves our assault weapons laws in effect while appellate proceedings continue. We won’t stop defending these life-saving laws.”

When he announced his appeal, Bonta called Benitez’s decision “disturbing and troubling and of great concern.” California state officials argued in their appeal that five federal appeals courts had rejected constitutional challenges to bans of assault weapons in the past.

The Times notes that California is one of seven states — along with the District of Columbia — to have an assault weapons ban. This current case will likely go to the Supreme Court, which currently has a conservative supermajority.

“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes,” Benitez wrote in his ruling.

“Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,” he added.

Tags assault weapons ban California Rob Bonta Roger Benitez

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