Jun 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Newsom and California attorney general call ruling on assault weapons ban "disturbing"

Photo of Gavin Newsom speaking from a podium with Rob Bonta and associates standing behind him in an open courtyard

Photo: California Governor's Office

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Attorney General Rob Bonta vowed to challenge a recent judicial decision overturning a longtime ban on assault weapons in the state.

Why it matters: The ruling overturned a more than 30-year-old ban on assault weapons. California has one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the country, per the CDC, which Newsom and Bonta cited as proof the law worked.

Catch up quick: Last Friday, a federal judge ruled the ban unconstitutional, comparing AR-15 rifles to Swiss Army knives. The rifles are a "perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment," U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez said.

  • At the moment, the district court's 30-day stay remains in effect. Bonta said his office will ask the appeals court to extend the stay and leave the laws in effect throughout the appeals process.

What they're saying: "The decision was disappointing and the reasoning, such as equating assault weapons to Swiss Army knives and false claims that COVID-19 vaccines have killed more people than mass shootings, was shocking," Bonta said at a joint press briefing, noting the ruling is "disturbing and troubling."

  • Federal and state courts have held that assault weapons are better suited for military use than self-defense, Bonta noted.
  • "Our strong common-sense gun laws help curb not only mass shootings but gun violence as a whole," he said. "Our laws also respect the rights of those law-abiding, responsible individuals," he noted, but added the state must take "lawful" and "constitutional" action to save lives.
  • Bonta also noted the recent mass shooting in San Jose that killed 9 victims as a reminder that "no one law will put an end to mass shootings and gun violence" but that California would continue to take action where it could.

Newsom echoed Bonta's words, calling the ruling "outrageous" and shameful.

  • Gun safety laws save lives, he said. "We have results to back it up," he added. "We'll continue to lead" this fight.

The big picture: Between 2014 and June 2021, California saw 10,175 gun-related deaths, according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence.

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