A federal judge overturned California’s longstanding ban on the possession and use of assault weapons Friday in a ruling that compares the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife.
Assault weapons have been banned in California since 1989. The law has been updated several times since it was passed. Now, according to U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego, the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms and denies Californians the ability to own assault weapons, which are normally allowed in other states. Benitez issued a permanent injunction Friday, so the law cannot be enforced.
“Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is the perfect combination of weapon for home and country defense,” Benitez said in the ruling.
“Firearms that are considered assault weapons are fairly common, popular modern rifles. One person should be forgiven if the media and others are persuaded that the country is flooded with deadly AR-15 assault rifles. However, the facts do not support this exaggeration, and the facts matter,” the judge noted.
According to FBI data for 2019, the handgun was the most commonly used weapon in homicides, accounting for 6,368 victims in 2019. Knives and cutting tools accounted for 1,476 homicides, rifles accounted for 364 homicide victims, and firearms of an unspecified type. Another 3,281 Americans suffered assaults.
Nevertheless, the AR-15-style rifle remains the weapon of choice for the most violent massacres in modern history, including in the shootings at the Aurora, Colorado, the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a high school in Parkland and others.