Senior US District Judge Rules California’s Ban on AR-15s to Be Unconstitutional

California’s ban on AR-15s and other so-called “assault weapons” violates the Second Amendment.

Senior United States District Court Judge Roger Benitez declared Oct. 19, 2023 that California’s law making it a crime to acquire and possess many common modern semi-automatic firearms violates the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, saying the state’s “’assault weapon’ prohibition has no historical pedigree and it is extreme.”

Here are excerpts from his astute and comprehensible 79-page ruling:

“The State says criminals already have and favor using guns described as ‘assault weapons.’ Rather than being outgunned, many citizens want these same firearms as a defense against criminal attacks. Americans today own 24.4 million modern rifles (i.e., AR-15 platform and AK-47 platform rifles), according to the State’s expert. Of the AR-15 rifle owners surveyed, 61% said one reason they acquired their gun is for home defense. Consequently, while criminals already have these modern semiautomatics, the State prohibits its citizens from buying and possessing the same guns for self-defense. At the same time these firearms are commonly possessed by law-abiding gun owners elsewhere across the country.”

“Guns for self-defense are needed a lot because crime happens a lot. A recent large-scale survey estimates that guns are needed defensively approximately 1,670,000 times a year. Another report, originally commissioned and long cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that there are between 500,000 and 3,000,000 defensive gun uses in the United States each year. That is a lot of situations where Jane Doe needs a firearm to defend herself and her family. Trial testimony from hoodlums is not needed to prove that a homeowner brandishing an AR-15 can be a strong deterrent to criminal attackers. But when brandishing does not stop an attack, Jane needs an effective defense. That is where an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle can come to the rescue.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Senior US District Judge Declares Gun Magazine Capacity Limits Unconstitutional ]

“California’s ‘assault weapon’ ban takes away from its residents the choice of using an AR-15 type rifle for self-defense. Is it because modern rifles are used so frequently for crime? No. The United States Department of Justice reports that in the year 2021, in the entire country 447 people were killed with rifles (of all types). From this one can say that, based on a national population of 320 million people in the United States, rifles of any kind (including AR-15s) were used in homicides only 0.0000014% of the time. Put differently, if 447 rifles were used to commit 447 homicides and every rifle-related homicide involved an AR-15, it would mean that of the approximately 24,400,000 AR15s in the national stock, less than .00001832% were used in homicides. It begs the question: what were the other AR-15 type rifles used for? The only logical answer is that 24,399,553 (or 99.999985%) of AR-15s were used for lawful purposes.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, USA State Constitutions Providing for Armed Self-Defense ]

“This Court understands the unquestionable tragedy caused by lawless individuals using modern semi-automatic guns or any gun to injure or kill innocent men, women, or children. Their lives are important. But are their lives any more important than Jane Doe’s or the lives of her family? We hear constantly about mass shootings for days and weeks and on anniversaries. But how often do we celebrate the saving of the life of Jane Doe because she was able to use a semi-automatic weapon to defend herself and her family from attackers? Are the lives of Jane, John, and Junior Doe worth any less than others? Are they less important?”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Important Judicial Decisions Regarding Self-Defense Law ]

“Like a cut diamond, the uniquely American right to keep and bear arms is multifaceted. The unalienable right to have firearms for self-defense existed before the Bill of Rights and today remains the central protection of the Second Amendment. It is a right that was recognized in English common law and in the American colonies.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Brief Answers for People Who Are Against the 2nd Amendment ]

“It does not take a Nobel laureate to figure out that if Americans own 400 million guns and 400 million gun crimes are not being committed, that Americans are using their guns for something other than crime. If Americans own 24.4 million AR-15s and 24.4 million gun crimes are not being committed with AR-15s, Americans must be using them for lawful purposes. Some people actively use AR-15s for hunting or sport or target practice. Probably the vast majority of Americans that own guns keep them and use them for self-defense the same way that a driver puts on a seat belt in the case of a collision. Though collisions rarely happen, the seat belt is used for protection and to be ready for the unexpected collision. A reserve canopy is being used on a parachute jump, although it is not deployed, in case the main parachute fails. A cell phone in one’s pocket is being used when waiting for a telephone call or when one might need to make a call. An AR-15 under one’s bed at night is being used for self-defense even when the night is quiet. A person may happily live a lifetime without having to fire their gun in self-defense. But that is not to say that such a person does not use their gun for self-defense when he or she keeps it under the bed with a hope and a prayer that it never has to be fired.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, 20 Reasons to Concealed Carry a Defensive Firearm ]

“The State’s attempt to ban these popular firearms creates the extreme policy that a handful of criminals can dictate the conduct and infringe on the freedom of law-abiding citizens. As Heller explains, the Second Amendment takes certain policy choices and removes them beyond the realm of permissible state action. California’s answer to the criminal misuse of a few is to disarm its many good residents. That knee-jerk reaction is constitutionally untenable, just as it was 250 years ago. The Second Amendment stands as a shield from government imposition of that policy.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Survey: Protection Is the Main Reason People Own a Gun ]

“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 necessary. 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.’ Unfortunately, governments tend to restrict the right of armed self-defense. Punishing every good citizen because bad ones misuse a gun offends the Constitution. A state supreme court in 1878 said it succinctly: ‘If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of a constitutional privilege.’”

[ Read SemperVerus articles on the subject of the 2nd Amendment ]

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