California appeals judge's ruling that overturned state's ban on assault-style weapons
June 10, 2021 at 19:17
Washington (CNN) California is appealing a federal judge's ruling last week that overturned the state's longtime ban on assault-style weapons, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Thursday.
US District Judge Roger Benitez on Friday blocked California from enforcing its ban, saying it violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms and deprives Californians from owning assault-style weapons commonly allowed in other states.
In a press conference Thursday announcing that an appeal has been filed, Bonta, a Democrat, called the judge's opinion "disturbing and troubling and of great concern."
"We cannot be and we are not deterred by this ruling," he said.
Bonta said his office will ask the appeals court to stay the district court's ruling, which would extend the 30-day stay and leave the laws in place during the appeals process.
In his ruling, Benitez likened the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife, arguing that both are a "perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment."
His comparison drew criticism from California Democrats and gun safety activists, while gun rights advocates celebrated the ruling.
Gavin Newsom and others who spoke at Thursday's news conference slammed Benitez as an ideologue and claimed his ruling was a legal outlier.
The judge's ruling came in Miller v Bonta, a 2019 lawsuit from California residents, San Diego County Gun Owners PAC and other gun rights advocacy groups.
California became the first state to ban the sale of semiautomatic guns in 1989, following a shooting at an elementary school in Stockton that left five children dead.
Six other states and Washington, DC, have bans on certain semiautomatic firearms.
In recent years, the US Supreme Court has declined to take up challenges to several states' assault-style weapons bans, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois, leaving lower court upholdings of these laws in place.