A federal judge in California just handed down one of the strongest pro-gun rulings in history, and in response, Democrats and the media are doing their best to miss the point and mislead the public.
Judge Roger T. Benitez, who has issued several pro-gun rulings in recent years, penned a scathing critique of California’s “assault weapons” ban and argued that it directly contradicts both the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court’s Heller decision.
“In the end, the Bill of Rights is not a list of suggestions or guidelines for social balancing,” Benitez writes. “The Bill of Rights prevents the tyranny of the majority from taking away the rights of a minority. When a state nibbles on Constitutional rights, who protects the minorities? The federal courts. The Second Amendment protects any law-abiding citizen’s right to choose to be armed to defend himself, his family, and his home.”
Second Amendment advocacy organizations praised the ruling as air-tight and well-informed.
“In his 94-page ruling, Judge Benitez has shredded California gun control laws regarding modern semi-automatic rifles,” said Second Amendment Foundation 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.”
Democrats in California and their allies in the national media have latched on to a phrase in Benitez’s opening paragraph to try to discredit the ruling. “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez begins. Anti-gun advocates have implied that Benitez intended to compare the deadliness of AR-platform rifles to Swiss Army knives.
“There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with Swiss Army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities,” California State Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.
“I can assure you — if a Swiss Army knife was used at Pulse, we would have had a birthday party for my best friend last week,” Brandon Wolf, who survived the Pulse Nightclub attack in Florida attack, wrote on Twitter. “Not a vigil.”
Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, also misread Benitez’s comment.
“I have two daughters, and they read dystopian fiction, like the ‘Hunger Games,’ and it was kind of like that,” she told the LA Times. “It can’t be real. Nobody, ever, who is a thinking human being with a heartbeat, could possibly liken a Swiss Army knife to an AR-15.”
Of course, Benitez is not comparing the deadliness of the AR-15 with a Swiss Army knife. His point, as he explains in the very next sentence, is that the AR-15 is the do-it-all rifle. As he argues throughout his ruling, such rifles are precisely what the Constitution’s Framers wanted to protect under the Second Amendment and what the Supreme Court described as enjoying strong protections in its Heller decision.
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“As applied to [California’s “assault weapons” ban], the Heller test asks: is a modern rifle commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for a lawful purpose? For the AR-15 type rifle the answer is ‘yes,’” Benitez writes. “The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and keep the popular AR-15 rifle and its many variants do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense at home. Under Heller, that is all that is needed.”
Benitez also goes after California’s ban on standard-capacity magazines. He highlights a true story of a pregnant woman who used an AR-15 to defender her daughter and husband from multiple intruders.
It does not require much imagination to guess what would have happened next if the wife and mother did not have the firearm, or if she had emptied the AR-15’s magazine before the attackers had fled. The quiet click would be sickening and probably with tragic results. The State contends that one does not ‘need’ more than ten rounds. That is easy to say. Perhaps one should imagine the terror that would have gripped this wife and mother, from the sound of a ‘click,’ out of ammunition, helplessly watching her husband being murdered, her daughter being raped or murdered, and the enraged men coming for her.
Benitez concludes by calling California’s “assault weapon” ban a “failed experiment.” The legislation has done nothing to prevent mass shootings or attacks on law enforcement officers, but it has profoundly impacted the constitutional rights of millions of Americans who have been denied access to protected firearms.
“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 better,” he writes. “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.”
Unfortunately, nothing will change immediately about California’s gun laws. Judge Benitez put a 30-day stay on his ruling to allow the state to appeal, which Attorney General Rob Bonta plans to do. When that happens, the case will have to wind its way to the California appeals court. From there, it could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Check out the full opinion below.