On Friday, California’s “assault weapons” ban was ruled unconstitutional in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Miller v. Bonta argued that California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons” violated the Second Amendment.
Judge Roger T. Benitez, appointed by President George W. Bush, agreed with the plaintiff’s contention, ruling:
The Second Amendment “elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” Heller, 554 U.S., at 635. The Supreme Court clearly holds that the Second Amendment protects guns commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes. At the same time, “the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms . . . that ‘have some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.’”
And although the Supreme Court cautioned that the Second Amendment does not guarantee a right to keep and carry “any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” Heller, 554 U.S., at 626, lower courts have often cited this proviso about extreme cases to justify gun laws in average contexts. There is no evidence that the Supreme Court intended that language to be a license to avoid its common sense holding in average contexts.
Benitez also noted:
Heller took the already expansive zone of protection for weapons that could be used by the militia and focused on the core use of firearms for self-defense. “The [Heller] Court determined that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right held by the people, and not limited by the prefatory clause — ‘a well regulated Militia’ — only to ‘the right to possess and carry a firearm in connection with militia service.’
The phrase “assault weapons” was noted by Benitez “As an aside, the ‘ assault weapon’ epithet is a bit of misnomer. Guns are a dangerous weapon. However, all guns can be used for good or ill. They should be called ‘home defense rifles’ or ‘anti-crime guns.'”
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling. “Firearms deemed as ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”
In his ruling, the judge also criticized the news media, writing, “One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”
Benitez ruled against the ban of “assault weapons” issuing a 30 day stay on his injunction to give California Attorney General Rob Bonta time to appeal the ruling.
The following rule goes into effect after the 30 days:
Defendant Attorney General Rob Bonta, and his officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and those persons in active concert or participation with him, and those duly sworn state peace officers and federal law enforcement officers who gain knowledge of this injunction order or know of the existence of this injunction order, are enjoined from implementing or enforcing the California Penal Code §§ 30515(a)(1) through (8) (defining an “assault weapon” by prohibited features), 30800 (deeming those “assault weapons” a public nuisance), 30915 (regulating those “assault weapons” obtained by bequest or inheritance), 30925 (restricting importation of those “assault weapons” by new residents), 30945 (restricting use of those registered “assault weapons”), and 30950 (prohibiting possession of those “assault weapons” by minors) and the penalty provisions §§ 30600, 30605 and 30800 as applied to “assault weapons” defined in Code §§ 30515(a)(1) through (8).
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) supported Miller’s case.
Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president commented on Benitez’s ruling, saying, “It is clear that the judge did his homework on this ruling, and we are delighted with the outcome.”