A decades-old work of California state legislation restricting assault weapons was struck down by a federal judge on Thursday on the basis that the law was “extreme” and had “no historical pedigree.”
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez struck down a ban which was implemented in 1989, which prohibited the manufacturing and possession of certain semiautomatic firearms. The law was passed in response to the Stockton school shooting in January of that year.
According to Benitez’s ruling, American tradition “is rich and deep in protecting a citizen’s enduring right to keep and bear common arms like rifles, shotguns, and pistols” and does not allow for restrictions based on “looks or attributes.” Benitez contended that the weapons banned under this California law are “virtually the same” as other permitted weapons, differing only in aesthetics.
“This case is about California laws that, in contrast to these constitutional principles, make it a crime to acquire and possess many common modern semiautomatic firearms,” Benitez wrote. “Modern semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15 platform rifle are widely owned by law-abiding citizens across the nation. Other than their looks (the state calls them ‘features’ or ‘accessories’) these prohibited rifles are virtually the same as other lawfully possessed rifles.”
Benitez stayed his ruling for a period of 10 days, allowing California Attorney General Rob Bonta to appeal the decision.
“Once again, this district court issued a dangerous and misguided decision and I will work vigorously to reverse it on appeal,” Bonta said in a statement.
Last month, Benitez also issued an injunction against another gun control law, this one restricting magazines to a capacity of 10 rounds, similarly referring to this law as “extreme” and asserting that there was “no American tradition of limiting ammunition capacity.”
Justice Benitez was appointed in 2004 to the newly established circuit district of Southern California by former President George W. Bush. The bespectacled Californian has a lengthy history of striking down state-level gun control legislation, much to the chagrin of progressives in the Golden State.
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