California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta issued statements after a federal judge overturned California’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, ruling it violates a constitutional right to bear arms.
According to the decision, the states definition of illegal military style rifles unlawfully deprives law-abiding Californians of weapons commonly allowed in most other states and by the US Supreme Court. The ruling was in a 94-page release.
In the ruling, the judge said 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 machineguns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes. 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.
In the decision on Page 92: It is declared that these statutes unconstitutionally infringe the Second Amendment rights of California citizens and called it a 30-year-old failed experiment.
“California may certainly conceive of a policy that a modern rifle is dangerous in the hands of a criminal, and that therefore it is good public policy to keep modern rifles out of the hands of every citizen. The Second Amendment stands as a shield from government imposition of that policy.”
There is only one policy enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Guns and ammunition in the hands of criminals, tyrants and terrorists are dangerous; guns in the hands of law-abiding responsible citizens are better. 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. In early America and today, the Second Amendment right of self-preservation permits a citizen to “‘repel force by force’ when ‘the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent that injury.’” Heller, 554 U.S., at 594. Then, as now, the Second Amendment “may be considered as the true palladium of liberty.” Id. at 606 (citation omitted). Unfortunately, governments tend to restrict the right of self-defense. “[I]n most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine the right within the narrowest limits possible.” Id. (citation omitted). Fortunately, no legislature has the constitutional authority to dictate to a good citizen that he or she may not acquire a modern and popular gun for self-defense. The Court does not lightly enjoin a state statute. However, while the Court is mindful that government has a legitimate interest in protecting the public from gun violence, it is equally mindful that the Constitution remains a shield from the tyranny of the majority. As Senator Edward Kennedy said, “[t]he judiciary is – and is often the only – protector of individual rights that are at the heart of our democracy.” Law-abiding citizens are imbued with the unalienable right to keep and bear modern firearms.
California’s Assault Weapons Control Act was enacted in 1989.
Here is the response from Governor Gavin Newsom:
SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom released the following statement on today’s court decision regarding assault weapons:
“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.”
California has led the nation in passing gun safety laws, having pioneered statewide protections approved by voters in Proposition 63 to ban possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring background checks to keep ammunition out of the hands of dangerous people. Since assuming office, Governor Newsom has signed multiple bills aimed at reducing gun violence, including strengthening gun violence restraining orders and regulating the sale of firearms and ammunition. Governor Newsom also worked with the Legislature to accelerate the regulation of ‘ghost guns’ to crack down on the use of untraceable firearms by criminals. Because of California’s commitment to meaningful gun safety laws, the state has one of the lowest firearm injury death rates in the country.
Here is the response from Attorney General Rob Bonta:
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued the following statement on today’s decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in Miller v. Bonta declaring California’s assault weapons laws unconstitutional:
“Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it. There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with swiss army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities. We need to take action to end gun violence now. We will fight this ruling and continue to advocate for and defend common sense gun laws that will save lives.”
This decision is stayed for 30 days, and the California laws that are the subject of the ruling currently remain in full force and effect.
A copy of the decision can be found here.