Roger Benitez, a San Diego-based district judge, ended a 32-year ban on the sale of assault rifles in California on Friday. The judge opined that the rule established in 1989 and which has been updated several times violates the constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment, which guarantees the possession of weapons in the United States. The judge’s decision has been a severe blow to the progressive state, the most populous in the country and which claims to have the strictest arms regulation standards. “The decision is a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period,” said Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, repudiating the ruling and advancing a judicial fight to maintain the ban.
Benitez, a judge appointed by former President George W. Bush, equated assault rifles with Swiss army knives in his judicial opinion. “The popular AR-15 rifle is the perfect combination of a home defense weapon and territory defense equipment. It is good for the house and the battlefield, ”wrote the robed in the introduction to his 94-page ruling. The data, however, show that this type of weapon was present in the seven shootings with the most victims in the last decade in the United States. 85% of the killings with four or more victims were committed with high-powered rifles.
Governor Newsom, the son of a judge, believes that the comparison to a Swiss army knife “completely undermines the credibility of the decision” as well as being a “slap in the face for families who have lost a loved one to a gun.” “We will not give up in this fight and we will continue to fight for common sense laws that regulate weapons and allow us to continue saving lives,” the president announced in a statement.
The ban will remain in effect for 30 days, a grace period that local authorities have to appeal Benitez’s ruling. The California prosecutor, Rob Bonta, has already announced that he will attack the judge’s opinion, which he describes as having “fundamental flaws.” On Twitter, the prosecutor recalled that high-caliber weapons such as the AR-15 were used in public shootings that broke dozens of families in recent years, including those that occurred at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead; that of the school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, with 26 deaths, 20 of them children aged six and seven, and the massacre with the most victims in the history of the United States, that of Las Vegas in 2017, which left 60 dead and more of 400 injured.
California, with 39.5 million residents, has the seventh lowest rate of gun deaths in the country thanks to its harsh regulation of gun sales. Only few exceptions allow a citizen to own an assault rifle such as the AK-47 submachine guns or the aforementioned Colt AR-15. The State also prohibits the sale of a duly registered rifle to another person, the transaction can only be with an armory or with a sheriff’s office within the region. Other owners have been able to keep them because their weapons predate 1989, the year the sale was banned.
Despite this, California has not been able to fully shake off the specter of gun violence. In nearly 20 years, between 2000 and 2019, the state recorded 42 incidents with attackers in public areas, 50% more than the second site, Florida, according to recent FBI data. On May 26, Samuel James Cassidy, a light rail maintenance worker in the northern city of San José, entered the public transportation offices at the time of the shift change to kill nine of his colleagues. . He was armed with three semi-automatic pistols with chambers for 32 rounds. It has been one of the worst attacks in the area. The fear now is to imagine how much more pain Cassidy would have caused if she had held a high-powered rifle in her hands.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.