A federal judge overturned a three-decade-old assault weapons ban in California, ruling the state’s attempt to prohibit sales of semiautomatic guns unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled that modern semiautomatic rifles are “common household items used for self-defense by millions of law-abiding citizens,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

He ruled 2nd Amendment rights cannot be infringed because others misuse the same weapons for shootings and other violent acts.

“Guns and ammunition in the hands of criminals, tyrants and terrorists are dangerous; guns in the hands of law-abiding responsible citizens are necessary,” Benitez wrote, the outlet noted.

“To give full life to the core right of self-defense, every law-abiding responsible individual citizen has a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear firearms commonly owned and kept for lawful purposes,” he added.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

The decision was expected from Benitez, who had previously struck down the law in a 2021 decision in which he famously compared the AR-15 to common knives — an analogy he took up again Thursday.

“Like the Bowie Knife which was commonly carried by citizens and soldiers in the 1800s,” Benitez’s latest decision begins, “‘assault weapons’ are dangerous, but useful.”

Benitez’s decision would overturn several state statutes related to such weapons, but it does not take effect immediately. As part of his decision, Benitez gave the state 10 days to seek a stay on the ruling as part of an appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta’s office, which has been defending the law in court, immediately filed a notice of appeal and stressed the state’s ban remains in effect for now.

“Weapons of war have no place on California’s streets,” Bonta said in a statement. “This has been state law in California for decades, and we will continue to fight for our authority to keep our citizens safe from firearms that cause mass casualties.”

Ammoland provided further details from Benitez’s ruling:

In his 79-page decision, Judge Benitez writes, “Falling back on an old, recycled justification, the State says that its ban should stand because a person can have as many other rifles, shotguns, and pistols as one wants…Heller demolished that argument. The same argument – that a handgun ban might be justified because government-approved alternatives are available – was rejected in Heller and it is rejected here.

Heller said quite clearly that it is no constitutional answer for government to say that it is permissible to ban some guns so long as other guns are allowed. This is not the way American Constitutional rights work. It is not permissible for a state to ban some books simply because there are other books to read, or to close synagogues because churches and mosques are open. In their normal configurations, the so-called “assault weapons” banned in California are modern firearms commonly-owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes across the nation.


Under Heller, McDonald, Caetano, and Bruen, they may not be banned.”

Read the full 79-page decision HERE.

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