Judge overturns California's assault weapon ban

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A "failed experiment." that's how a USA federal judge described California's three-decade long ban on assault weapons, as he overturned it on Friday, calling the ban unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego ruled Friday that the stateĀ“s definition of illegal military-style rifles unlawfully deprives law-abiding Californians of weapons commonly allowed in most other states.

Benitez said he would give the state 30 days to appeal the decision, which Governor Newson said posed a "direct threat to public safety" and which he vowed to challenge.

California Governor Gavin Newsom was outraged at that comparison and the legal decision overall.

He compared the AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army knife, saying it's "a flawless combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle", the judge said in his ruling's introduction. He called the ruling a "disgusting slap" in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.

Newsom added: "We're not backing down from this fight, and we'll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives".

Bonta called the ruling flawed and said it would be appealed.

The first restriction on assault weapons in California came in1989. But opponents argued retailers would just pass that cost onto consumers. The state plans to appeal the ruling.

The lawsuit said California is "one of only a small handful states to ban numerous most popular semiautomatic firearms in the nation because they possess one or more common characteristics, such as pistol grips and threaded barrels".

"We look forward to the positive impact this ruling will have on current and future Second Amendment cases", NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said in a statement to CNN.

The judge noted that California's "arbitrary and capricious" ban on "assault weapons" appears rather ineffective. "Those arms are risky and exclusively useful for military purposes", it reads. "Instead, the firearms deemed "assault weapons" are fairly ordinary, popular, modern".

In a 94-page decision, federal Judge Roger T Benitez described California's assault weapons ban - in place in 1989 - as unconstitutional and defended the right of Americans to own semi-automatic rifles.

"This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes", the ruling said.

Benitez stated that "the banned "assault weapons" are not bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns" which are "dangerous and exclusively useful for military purposes", while assault weapons are "fairly ordinary, popular, modern". "The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter", he wrote.

He called the California law a "failed experiment" to prevent mass shootings or attacks on law enforcement.

The lawsuit to take on California's gun laws, which are considered some of the most stringent in the country, was filed by the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee, California Gun Rights Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition among other gun advocacy groups, the AP confirmed. In the ruling, Benitez notes that Californians already own hundreds of thousands of "assault weapons" under the state's definition, and that the definition in the law is rather arbitrary.

Brandon Combs, the president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, said in a statement that the ruling "held what millions of Americans already know to be true: Bans on so-called "assault weapons" are unconstitutional and can not stand". "According to the Attorney General, 'assault weapons enable a shooter to fire more rounds rapidly in a given period with greater accuracy, increasing the likelihood that more individuals will be shot and suffer more numerous injuries.' The implied context is a mass shooting". Money from the tax would have funded gun violence research and prevention programs.

Back in 2017, Benitez reuled that the almost longtime ban on the sales and purchases of magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

California has led the nation in passing gun safety laws, having pioneered statewide protections approved by voters in Proposition 63 to ban possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring background checks to keep ammunition out of the hands of risky people.

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