Government Watch / Politics / We The People

California’s AR-15 Ban Unconstitutional – Fresh Ruling


The anti-gun lobby is screeching, becoming downright shrill, which tells you something. They are losing the rational debate over whether Americans have an established, unchanging, constitutional right to own guns for all purposes, self-protection, hunting, target shooting, and a buffer against government overreach. A fresh decision last week punctuates the point.

Last week, a US District Court Judge in California, Roger Benitez, upended California’s 30-year ban on AR-15 rifles – a semi-automatic firearm critics dub an “assault weapon” for “style.” Seven states and DC ban “assault weapons,” making the case salient and certain to be appealed, perhaps to a conservative Supreme Court.

On the facts, California outlawed “assault weapons” in 1989.

The ban was challenged in 2019. The ruling stayed for 30 days to allow for appeal, incontrovertibly disposes of the gun ban.

Wrote Judge Benitez: “This case is about what should be a muscular constitutional right and whether a state can force a gun policy choice that impinges on that right with a 30-year-old failed experiment,” adding “government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where Constitutional rights are concerned.” He offered an analogy. “Like the Swiss army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” Critics hate the analogy.

While the decision is premised on a clear constitutional right to “keep and bear arms,” nested in established Supreme Court precedent, and lines up with recent caselaw in parallel jurisdictions, Democrat lawmakers are apoplectic. See, BREAKING: Federal Judge Overturns California’s AR15 Ban.

Biden’s team is religiously anti-gun, from Vice President Harris’ prosecution of gun makers in California to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s anti-gun judicial decisions, ATF nominee David Chipman and erstwhile candidate “Hell, yes, we’re coming for your AR-15” Beto O’Rourke. See, e.g., Everything You Need to Know About Kamala Harris’s Anti-Gun Record; Everything You Need to Know About Kamala Harris’s Anti-Gun Record; Beto says police would enforce gun confiscation under his buyback plan: ‘There have to be consequences’; Biden ATF Nominee Has Long History of Anti-Gun Statements; Biden’s ATF Director Nominee is an Anti-Gun Train Wreck.

Democrat reactions were swift – not discussing case law, nuances, prevailing Supreme Court precedent, or definitional ambiguities on “assault weapons,” which dog Biden’s ATF nominee.

Instead, they were caustic, picking apart the judge’s analogy – a Swiss Army knife – for describing this popular, semi-automatic firearm with varying styles, attachments, and uses. Said California’s Democrat Attorney General Rob Bonta: “Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it.”

California’s embattled Democrat Governor, Gavin Newsom, called it a “disgusting slap,” disparaged the Swiss Army Knife analogy, signaled for a media chorus. See, e.g., ‘Disgusting slap in the face’: Newsom’s response to judge’s overturn on assault weapons ban; A Federal Judge Just Compared an AR-15 to a Swiss Army Knife.

The Bush-appointed judge’s record – over 18 years on the bench – is distinguished by upholding constitutional rights, not clipping them. His 2nd Amendment decisions include a 120-page opinion in 2020, overturning California’s background check for ammunition purchases, at a time when urban violence in California was creating gun-owners – who needed ammunition. He wrote: “California’s new ammunition background check law misfires and the Second Amendment rights of California citizens have been gravely injured,” causing the state to appeal.

In 2019, Benitez upended California’s ban on high-capacity magazines, writing: “California’s law prohibiting acquisition and possession of magazines able to hold any more than ten rounds places a severe restriction on the core right of self-defense of the home such that it amounts to a destruction of the right and is unconstitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

Interestingly, between 2007 and 2017, when AR-15 purchases quickly rose, the number of homicides by rifles was falling.

While data is imprecise, homicides committed by rifles fell from near four percent to below two percent. Moreover, three times as many homicides were committed by knives as by rifles – and in California, a higher ratio – suggesting the judge may have done a disservice to AR-15s when comparing them to knives. See, e.g., Are AR-15 Rifles a Public Safety Threat? Here’s What the Data Say; Gavin Newsom Rages, Makes False Claims After Federal Judge Strikes Down California’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Gun Ban.

The big picture is worth seeing. “According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation … modern sporting rifles, like AR-15-style rifles, are the most common firearm in the country.” Experts note the firearm is not automatic, is used for varying purposes, and less powerful than many common hunting rifles. See, The Number of AR-15s In America Will Shock Anti-Gunners.

As left-leaning political actors screech for gun control – with one former Democrat-appointed Supreme Court Justice earlier suggesting the 2nd Amendment be banned – reality is different. As gun ownership rises, driven by threats to security, purchasing rights, social unrest, street riots, and leaders threatening constitutional entitlements, judges are reaffirming the breadth and sanctity of the 2nd Amendment.

Bottom line:

At a time when many constitutional rights are under fire, free speech and exercise of religion to other guarantees against government overreach, this right may be ascendant. We will know when one gets to the Supreme Court, which maybe soon. Until then, let us hope for more rulings like the one last week – in favor of basic 2nd Amendment rights.

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George Mason
10 months ago

One more thought we get wrong, our U.S. Constitution did not include a bill of rights when it was passed. Why? Because the power to determine rights was not given to the new U.S. government. Determining the rights that people would live by belonged to the people living in the States. However, several people including George Mason wanted a bill of rights limiting our federal government to interfere with rights. This resulted in adding the bill of rights to our U.S. Constitution (first 10 amendments). These people were still afraid that the national government would seek the powers that would enable them to override our state’s rights. It appears that they were right.

George Mason
10 months ago

Guys here is the problem – you can not have your cake and eat it too! You are not thinking as our founding fathers thought. Government located in Washington over 300 plus million Americans is not freedom. In order to for freedom to occur;

  • We must embrace Christian style values and morals so that we can be a free and independent people without the need for a strong overbearing government police force. We will tend avoid and condemn crime, care about others, etc.
  • Our government which determines 99 percent of our laws must operate (live and work) within our local communities. The citizens of the local communities (cities, counties, states) must have the freedom to set the laws that they live by and NOT like we have today.

Therefore if the people of you community decides to ban guns, it should be their choice. Yes sometimes citizens chose the wrong laws but they need to determine that their law made zero sense and correct it their self. This is what our founding fathers were after – by the people, of the people, and for the people which can only occur when laws are determined locally.

1 year ago

These weak minded morons obviously have not been on the of anything remotely violent or deadly coming at them!
Never having HAD to face their own mortality in FEAR… not being able to defend what is theirs and near and dear to their LIFE.
How many of these weak kneed dopes would dare to put on a uniform and take up arms to defend their country? They…. Just make someone else do it!
I will bet that NONE of them have ever been a victim of a violent home invasion? (they live in gated communities with armed body guards) My heart pumps purple panther pee for their feelings!
Come and knock on my door, asking nay demanding my guns ***WARNING*** you wil be met with a bullet!

1 year ago

He made the right judgment call. It was based on our constitutional rights

Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Can we expand to all other gun types To acess more

1 year ago

This judge is far out if he thinks a Swiss Army knife can defend against someone with an assault weapon., does he have any common sense at all.

Old Silk
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnH

Define assault weapon.

1 year ago
Reply to  Old Silk

Any weapon that is used to assault someone.

Clarence Marshall
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnH

Clearly you did not understand his analogy. He was pointing out that the AR-15 is a multi-use device. Exactly like the Swiss Army Knife is a multi-use device. Do you have a problem understanding analogies?

1 year ago

Johnh doesn’t understand much that entails common sense

Last edited 1 year ago by HocasPocas
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnH

He has more common sense than you ever will. I hope you never have to make the choice of defense. But then again, I feel that you have your pain security you have nothing to worry about. Just hope that your paid security doesn’t get sick of your ideas about freedom

Jonathon W Hood
1 year ago

A great judge that knows the difference between freedom and tyranny… Our Constitutional freedoms are guaranteed to each and every American Citizen, always and not subject to the whims of any political party or group. All elected officials need to revisit their oath of office which requires them to protect, defend and obey the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Our forefathers had the sense of mind to protect us all from the possibility of being subjected to Tyrannical rule from outside and from within our own country and political systems. Anyone that determines to change or not follow these documents are, simply, guilty of treason and should be held accountable for their actions in every sense.

Scott Hammond
1 year ago

It’s all about control and the general public doesn’t have a clue about the facts… and they get to vote.

Tim Thompson
1 year ago

r[tobr yjr, pg/ It’s nice to know there are still judges that are making inroads to protecting the constitution especially the 2nd, 4th amendments. Democrats have taken the position and all or most all are pissing on their oaths of office swearing to defend and protect the constitution from all enemies. They themselves have become criminal to outwardly ignore that the first 10 amendments It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of. The Supreme Court should take up this case and once and for all decide that every American by the constitution written in plain English so everyone can understand what their freedom stands with and for.

1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Thompson

It quite possible depending how the Democrats handle this situation, that it could end up in the Supreme Court, provided they are willing to listen and decide properly.

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