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Photo: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge on Friday overturned California's more than 30-year-old ban on assault weapons, ruling it unconstitutional.

The state of play: U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez said that AR-15 rifles are like Swiss Army knives, calling them a "perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment." California's definition of illegal, military-style firearms unlawfully robs law-abiding residents of weapons widely available in most other states and by the U.S. Supreme Court, the judge wrote.

Flashback: California prohibited the sale of assault weapons in 1989, with the state legislature concluding that an assault weapon "has such a high rate of fire and capacity for firepower that its function as a legitimate sports or recreational firearm is substantially outweighed by the danger that it can be used to kill and injure human beings."

What he's saying: "This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes," Benitez wrote.

"Instead, the firearms deemed 'assault weapons' are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes."

The other side: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said the "[court's] decision is a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period."

  • "[T]he fact that this judge compared the AR-15 – a weapon of war that’s used on the battlefield – 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 this weapon," he added.

What to watch: Benitez said he granted a 30-day stay of the ruling at Bonta's request "during which time the Attorney General may appeal."

  • Bonta called the ruling "fundamentally flawed" and vowed to appeal it.

Go deeper

Poll shows big majority of Latinos oppose Newsom recall

California Gov. Gavin Newsom meets with Latino leaders at Hecho en Mexico restaurant in East Los Angeles. Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California voters' growing opposition to recalling Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is driven heavily by Latinos, according to new polling in the closing days of the election.

The big picture: A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last week found 66% of likely Latino voters saying they won't support the recall and just 27% saying they would — a shift from previous polls that suggested a tight race.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.