The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked a lower court's recent decision to overturn California
's decades-old ban on assault weapons, saying it should remain in effect while the legal battle
over the issue proceeds.
“This keeps our assault weapons laws in effect while the appeals process is underway, and we will not stop defending these life-saving laws,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta
said Monday, shortly after the three-judge panel issued its decision.
Earlier this month, former President George W. Bush's appointee, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, sparked outrage by ruling that the ban violated the Second Amendment and compared the weapons to a pocket knife.
“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,” Benitez wrote in his 94-page ruling on the ban, which prohibits anyone in California from possessing, importing, or purchasing assault weapons in nearly all cases, with an exception for guns
acquired prior to 1989.
California Governor Gavin Newsom
(D) reacted angrily to Benitez's portrayal.
“As the son of a judge, I grew up with a 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 battlefield weapon, 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 terrorism.
Because of their light, tiny bullets that travel
nearly three times the speed of sound, AR-15 assault rifles are considered particularly dangerous. The weapon of war was designed to kill many people
in a short amount of time, making it the firearm of choice for assailants in many mass shootings
The United States
once had a federal assault weapons ban
, similar to California's three-decade-old law, but the Republican-controlled Congress
refused to renew it in 2004, ten years after it was first passed, and the issue has only become more partisan in recent years.
Multiple recent mass shootings used assault weapons similar to the AR-15, including the April
FedEx shooting in Indianapolis and the March supermarket shooting in Boulder, Colorado
After the Boulder shooting, President Joe Biden
, who helped pass the previous federal assault weapons ban, said that it should be reinstated.
“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country again,” he said, adding, “I got that done when I was a senator; it passed, it was a law for a long time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”