A federal judge has overturned California´s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, ruling that it violates the constitutional right to bear arms.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego ruled Friday, June 4, 2021, that the state´s definition of illegal military-style rifles unlawfully deprives law-abiding Californians of weapons commonly allowed in most other states.
He handed down the two-page ruling in response to a lawsuit filed against the State of California by James Miller, Patrick Russ, Ryan Peterson, and the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee.
The plaintiffs successfully argued that California’s use of the term ‘assault weapons’ was ‘a politically-concocted pejorative term designed to suggest that there is an inherently unlawful or illegitimate basis for owning otherwise common firearms protected by the Second Amendment.’
They added that California banned guns that should have been lawful to own by designating them assault weapons using faulty rationales, such as a rifle’s ammunition capacity.
Arguing the case before Friday’s ruling, the plaintiffs’ ruler George M Lee said: ‘The government cannot ban the constitutionally-protected firearms at issue in this case.
‘We look forward to proving that the state’s statutes, policies, and practices at issue, in this case, are both unconstitutional and irrational.’
The lawsuit went on to reference Judge Benitez’s earlier ruling that California’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. Benitez later stayed his own order.
John Dillon, who also served as an attorney for the plaintiffs, added: ‘This is a straightforward case to protect our client’s constitutional rights and property.
‘The state of California’s ban on these firearms will fail constitutional scrutiny for the same reasons that its ban on firearm magazines did.’
California first restricted assault weapons in 1989, with multiple updates to the law since then.
California´s attorney general Rob Bonta argued that assault weapons as defined by the law are more dangerous than other firearms and are disproportionately used in crimes and mass shootings. But Benitez said the guns are overwhelmingly owned for legal purposes.
The Golden State could see gun laws relaxed even more from next month, with Dillon also representing Matthew Jones and Thomas Furrh.
They say California’s ban on anyone under the age of 21 owning guns is age discrimination and infringes on the rights of law-abiding young adults.
That suit wants the law changed so that people aged 18 and over can buy a gun.