SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday filed an appeal to a federal court decision that overturned the state’s ban on assault weapons, arguing that the law is needed “to protect the safety of Californians.”
The appeal seeks to reverse Friday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, who said the state’s three-decade ban on assault weapons is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of California gun owners that “has had no effect” on curtailing mass shootings.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Bonta in making the announcement at Zuckerman San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, a leading facility for treating gunshot victims.
“California’s assault weapons ban has saved lives, and we refuse to let these weapons of war back onto our streets,” said Newsom, who was elected on a platform that included expanding gun control laws. “This is a fight California will never back down from, period.”
The judge issued a permanent injunction against the enforcement of key provisions of the law, but stayed the order for 30 days to allow the state to appeal.
Bonta said his filing on Thursday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco asks for the stay to be extended until the case is decided.
“The ban on assault weapons will not put an end to all gun violence, but it is one important tool the state has to protect the safety of Californians while also respecting the rights of law-abiding residents who choose to possess firearms,” Bonta said Thursday.
He was especially critical of Benitez’s decision for comparing the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to a Swiss Army knife, with the judge calling it “good for both home and battle.”
“Equating firearms that have been used in many of the deadliest mass shootings in this country with Swiss Army knives has no basis in law or fact,” Bonta said.
California was the first state in the nation to ban assault weapons when it acted more than three decades ago in the wake of a shooting at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton that killed five children and wounded 29 others.