In a case that is most certainly headed for the Supreme Court, constitutional conservatives,
gun owners and liberty-lovers won a significant court ruling in the case of Miller v. Bonta, which challenged the constitutionality of California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” with U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez declaring the state’s statutes regarding such firearms to be unconstitutional.
As the New York Times reported, Judge Benitez wrote that the case was about “what should be a muscular constitutional right and whether a state can force a gun policy choice that impinges on that right with a 30-year-old failed experiment.”
“It should be an easy question and answer,” Judge Benitez, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, continued. “Government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where constitutional rights are concerned.”
The judge wrote that the firearms banned under the state’s law were not “bazookas, howitzers or machine guns,” but rather “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”
The Second Amendment Foundation was joined in this action by the Firearms Policy Coalition, California Gun Rights Foundation, San Diego County Gun Owners PAC, Poway Weapons and Gear, Gunfighter Tactical, LLC, and several private citizens including James Miller, for whom the case is named.
“In his 94-page ruling, Judge Benitez has shredded California gun control laws regarding modern semi-automatic rifles,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “It is clear the judge did his homework on this ruling, and we are delighted with the outcome.”
In his opening paragraph, Judge Benitez observes, “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, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) and United States v Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR- 15 type rifle. Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.”
Later in the ruling, Judge Benitez observes, “The Second Amendment protects modern weapons.” A few pages later, he adds, “Modern rifles are popular. Modern rifles are legal to build, buy, and own under federal law and the and the laws of 45 states.” Perhaps most importantly, the judge notes that California’s ban on such firearms “has had no effect” on shootings in the state. “California’s experiment is a failure,” Judge Benitez says.
“There is not much wiggle room in the judge’s decision,” Gottlieb stated. “Today’s ruling is one more step in SAF’s mission to win back firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.”
Brandon Combs, the president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, a group in Sacramento that helped bring the lawsuit to court, said in a statement that the ruling “held what millions of Americans already know to be true: Bans on so-called ‘assault weapons’ are unconstitutional and cannot stand.”
Judge Benitez stayed his order for 30-days to allow the state of California to appeal, which means the case is almost certainly headed for the Supreme Court.
federal law enforcement
assault weapons ban
Joe Biden nominees
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Miller v. Bonta
Judge Roger T. Benitez