A California AR-15 Ruling Worth Reading

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posted on June 9, 2021
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Some judge’s opinions are beautifully blunt.

Federal District Judge Roger Benitez ruling in Miller v. Bonta, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, is such a ruling.

It begins: “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller… .

Judge Benitez then writes: “The Second Amendment ‘elevates above all other interests the right of law- abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.’ Heller, 554 U.S., at 635. The Supreme Court clearly holds that the Second Amendment protects guns commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

This judge understands that AR-type rifles are now America’s rifle, as over 20 million are now lawfully in the hands of American citizens. They are great rifles for home-defense, for competition, and for hunting. As they typically have light-recoil, they are ideal for those who struggle to handle larger rifles and shotguns. They are, simply put, great tools.

Judge Benitez’s ruling finds California’s 1989 ban on these rifles to be unconstitutional.

“Under no level of heightened scrutiny can the [California ban on these rifles] survive,” Benitez held. With the decision, he issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of the gun ban, but stayed it for 30 days to give state Attorney General Rob Bonta time to appeal.

This ruling will certainly go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which might overturn this decision. Whether upheld or reversed, this is another case the U.S. Supreme Court should be paying attention to, as it may end up on their long list of cases requested to be heard.

Predictably, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called the decision “a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period.”

Nonsense. California’s gun bans and other Draconian laws imposing onerous restrictions on purchasing, possessing, or carrying firearms have hardly worked to stop sociopaths from committing evil acts. Blaming the law-abiding for the actions of criminals just doesn’t work. If Newsom was serious about trying to stop murderers, he would focus on the criminal element in California, not those who simply want to protect themselves.

“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns,” Judge Benitez wrote. “Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes. One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter. Federal Bureau of Investigation murder statistics do not track assault rifles, but they do show that killing by knife attack is far more common than murder by any kind of rifle. In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle.”

Judge Benitez has done precisely what gun-control advocates fear most: He has looked at the facts logically and came to rational conclusions. He didn’t get carried away with an ideology. He applied the law.

We’ll keep you up to date on further developments.

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