Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta held a news conference in San Francisco to announce the next legal steps following a San Diego federal judge's ruling overturning the state's three-decade-old ban on assault weapons.
The news conference will be live-streamed below:
On June 4, a federal judge 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 that the state’s definition of illegal military-style rifles unlawfully deprives law-abiding Californians of weapons commonly allowed in most other states.
California first restricted assault weapons in 1989, with multiple updates to the law since then.
California’s attorney general 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.
Governor Newsom Statement on Assault Weapons Court Decision
“Today’s decision is a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period. As the son of a judge, I grew up with deep respect for the judicial process and the importance of a judge’s ability to make impartial fact-based rulings, but the fact that this judge compared the AR-15 – a weapon of war that’s used on the battlefield – to a Swiss Army Knife completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon. We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives.”
The federal judge who overturned California’s decades-old assault weapons ban last week opened his 94-page ruling with an eye-opening analogy.
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” US District Judge Roger T. Benitez wrote.
In another section, he downplayed the risk of an assault rifle being used in a mass shooting as an “infinitesimally rare event.” He added: “More people have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California.”
“Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes,” he continued. “Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”