Judge Benitez’s California Assault Weapon Ruling is Pure Gold, and the Media Totally Missed the Point

Judge Roger T. Benitez latest pro-gun ruling is one of his best. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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.”

SEE ALSO: Gun-Friendly California Judge Scores Another 2A Case, Everytown Livid

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.

SEE ALSO: Standard-Capacity Magazines are Flooding California Following Landmark Ruling Striking Down Ban

“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.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 49 comments… add one }
  • KC June 14, 2021, 1:52 am

    WHOOOO RAY The courts come thru.

  • Jim June 12, 2021, 1:41 am

    This seems more like smoke and mirrors. If the judge was serious why did he put a stay on his own ruling? He should have told the state, no. The ruling stands and will take effect immediately. Your illegal guns laws are hereby null and void. I would have.

    • Dav June 14, 2021, 4:07 am

      He put in the 30 day stay to try to prevent the emergency injunction that the douchebags running the state would seek. They may still seek it, but with a stay they won’t have as much as leg to stand on.

  • ROBERT June 11, 2021, 10:48 pm

    The “media” did NOT miss the point.
    They IGNORED it because it did not fit into their agenda.

  • robert sanders June 11, 2021, 9:39 pm

    I wonder if my penis could be an assult weapon.

  • Joe Tee June 11, 2021, 8:44 pm

    One more time all you socialist liberal…MORONS…..it’s not even close to an Assault Rifle!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    When ya gonna get it dumb asses???????

  • Ranch Hand June 11, 2021, 7:23 pm

    I have taken game with some of my AR-15 type rifles chambered in .223/5.56. To say the weapon platform is not suitable for hunting is a lie, as are most of what the left perceive and project about these weapons. Just because a fully automatic version is used as a military weapon doesn’t change the fact that the civilian version has many valid and legal purposes. More people are killed, more crimes committed by handguns. AR-15 type weapons are just a start because they look scary so the idiot libs think they can sell the evil part. Can’t let that happen, ALL weapons will be next, then the 1st amendment is shortly thereafter. Remember, it’s not about guns, it’s about control.

    • Dav June 14, 2021, 4:11 am

      They aren’t waiting for the 2nd to be eradicated to silence you in the 1st. That is the point of them declaring that things are hate speech. They get to pick why they are silencing you and it can be arbitrary. The fun thing is that actual sons and daughters of holocaust survivors can’t say something is hate speech as they get immediately silenced by the actively anti-Semitic main stream media.

  • Vlad Tepes June 11, 2021, 7:02 pm

    Judge Burger and other judges have stated that 2A was written to induce the states to join as one country after the revolution. 2A would then allow the States to have independent militia’s not under the control of the Federal Government which would allow them to murder large numbers of black slaves if they rose up in revolt. 2A itself was deliberately written in the vaguest of terms to allow the courts to ban and or restrict firearms if they became a threat to the people in power both at the State and Federal level and that is exactly what the courts have been doing ever since i.e. banning or restricting firearms.

    2A had nothing to do with an individuals right to own weapons. The Militias have always been controlled by the people in power and the militias people were under the control of their State leaders of the Militia.

    • Arthur Hall June 11, 2021, 9:22 pm

      Hi Vlad – your arguments are deliberate distortions of 2A.
      The first sentence is “the Right of the People to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed. Then ADDED to that statement is the ADDITIONAL argument for a well regulated Militia. The Militia does not negate “the people”…

    • Kane June 11, 2021, 9:30 pm

      Well, Judge Rheinhold says Judge Berger is a dweeb.

    • Big Al 45 June 14, 2021, 8:01 am

      Try reading the Federalist Papers, then come back for another stab at it. But then, IF you read them, and understood them, you wouldn’t be making such very ignorant statements.

  • Vlad Tepes June 11, 2021, 6:52 pm

    The current Trump appointed Conservative Supreme Court already in 2020 REFUSED to hear 12 important Second Amendment cases letting lower anti-gun court rulings stand. The current pro-assault rifle ruling will obviously be over turned in the next higher court and the Supreme Court will once again refuse to hear the case. Their anti-gun history has already proven what is going to happen.

    • Dav June 14, 2021, 4:17 am

      The real test is to see if the State lawsuit against the Federal government to determine the right of the states to create their own silencer laws if they are made and remain in the state. There is no other jurisdiction that the Supreme Court has more of a responsibility to than between a State and the Federal Government. If they refuse to hear that, which they technically aren’t allowed to refuse, then you know that the Supreme Court is a dead institution and since both Houses of Congress have ceded much of their Constitutionally required power to the executive that we will have gone completely down the path of empire. It would only be a matter of timing.

  • Jeff Svejkovsky June 11, 2021, 6:45 pm

    A firearm is nothing more than an inanimate object, uncapable of action or movement. Not unlike a rock, bat, stick or any similar item. It must have someone pick it up and operate it, for good or evil.
    If we would prosecute the evil in our society, weapons would not be needed.

  • Ej harbet June 11, 2021, 4:57 pm

    A judge that upholds the text and intention of the constitution.can we clone this gentleman?
    Thank you Fidel for forging this man’s soul into the freedom blade and sending him to us. I wonder if he came in the Mariel boatlift?

  • Bill Boy June 11, 2021, 3:33 pm

    Gun grabbers need to become violent criminal grabbers. Want to completely stop murder? Put all criminals who commit violent crimes in prison and throw away the key. Instead, the current crop of Democrats are hell bent on letting as many violent criminals out of jail. It really makes one wonder what they are up to. They know this will increase violent crime, are they creating the statistics to use against gun ownership? Unfortunately for them, it has backfired, the increase in violent crime has added millions of new gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters. Looking forward to expanding my collection and the elimination of the handgun registry.

  • Glenn Martin June 11, 2021, 1:12 pm

    Then WHY Is New York City Allowed To Violate Our 2nd Amendment Banning Hand Guns. NYC
    Has Been Allowed To BAN Firearms For Generations Now And Get Away With It, WHY?

    • Jim June 12, 2021, 1:52 am

      They get away with it because nobody stops them. The constitution has no power and no authority unless those who swear and have sworn to defend and uphold it actually live up to their oath. All of our rights have been bastardized and are unrecognizable from 50 or 100 years ago. Free speech has been turned into; say anything you like at any time to anyone. The 2nd amendment has been chipped away to a shell of its origin.
      This country is no longer free. We have to ask permission to do everything. Hunting, fishing, add to or remodel your house, buy a car. You can’t drive it unless you pay. We have to pay a tax on everything we do. This country has turned to shit while we stood around with out thumbs up our asses and watched.

  • a11four1 June 11, 2021, 1:06 pm

    I enjoy writing comments, and reading responses other comments collect. This, easiest on ever.

    Barely full second page into the opinion, ‘our’ good Judge B.T. Benitez pens this sentence and footnote broken by the page sequence [lines 23-28]……….

    “One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation
    is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this

    1. The characterization of a finding as one of “fact” or “law” is not controlling. To the
    extent that a finding is characterized as one of “law” but is more properly characterized
    as one of “fact” (or vice versa), substance prevails over form.”

    Even such few words, hold crux of the issue. Without naming which media, he places the burden on not only errant depictions, but likelihood of misguided agendas to do so.
    And ignoring, whitewashing, falsehoods, or suppression of fact is exactly that.
    When you can’t win legitimately, you cheat.

  • ray June 11, 2021, 12:57 pm

    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”
    – James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789

    “The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

  • ray June 11, 2021, 12:57 pm

    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”
    – James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789

    “The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

    A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…”
    – George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790

  • pete June 11, 2021, 12:42 pm

    The hypocrisy I see here and all over the pro gun world about ARs AKs etc is that when it comes to regulation those guns are innocent sporting rifles, and when they are advertised, marketed, and mostly thought about/used by us, they are firepower maximizers designed for battle. Hardly anybody hunts with an AK. They keep it behind their door in readiness for the massive attack that rarely if ever comes.

    • cole johnson June 11, 2021, 6:06 pm

      The second amendment was not about hunting! And I don’t buy your ” us” statement. The hypocrisy is in your statement and mind only! People do not keep their AR’s and Ak’s behind the door as you fabricated, they take them out and shoot them for fun and practice. You should read the second amendment before giving your distorted opinion. In other words, I am not buying the BS you are pushing like a leftist politician! Have a nice day.

  • Jrp June 11, 2021, 12:14 pm

    Where in the 2nd amendment does it say anything about “common use”? Scalia left the door wide open in Heller for these communists. Up until the late 1800’s the Supreme Court would laugh these 2A challenges right out of court. Why was that? They actually “read” the constitution. In their time “Well Regulated” meant “To be ready” or “Well maintained”. The communists in this country have been using their word manipulation for a long time to tear rights apart they don’t like. Now it’s done by “precedent”. This has started with infringements leading up to the first gun control act of 1934. Which most people don’t know is done under the tax law. That is their way around violating the 2A they think. They just keep throwing stuff at the wall until it sticks no matter how unconstitutional it is. We need judges to read the constitution. That’s why it was written to stop a government from subverting rights given to you by your creator.

    • Dav June 14, 2021, 4:30 am

      Sadly it takes more than that. Judges are the last line of defense, but much of the power of Congress has been ceded to the Executive by lack of saying no or writing laws that let or even encourage them do it. The three were supposed to balance each other. The biggest grievous sin was actually committed by the progenitor of the modern Democrat party, Andrew Jackson. When he refused to act on John Marshall’s Supreme Court opinion that stated that that Georgia didn’t have the right to seize land from the Indian Nations since that was one of the actual powers granted to Congress and violated signed Treaties, he led us down the path of it being obvious that there is no requirement for people to follow the Constitution even if they are the Chief Executive of the United States of America. Everything since has been a gradual corruption of the founders intent and plainly written word, and done largely by one party.

  • fee June 11, 2021, 11:13 am

    Problem with anti gunners is they think guns are like cigarettes. It is harmful even after someone lawfully purchase the item and properly using the item. All they see is the 35000 killed per year by guns (they include 17000 suicides and 1000 killed by LEO) and not see the 250 000+ saved by lawful usage of lawfully obtained firearms. On top of that no criminal ever killed someone with an illegally obtained cigarette. Illegal guns are a fact of American life with criminals and with local mayors defunding the police and letting criminals out after arrest thru bail reform laws, why should a rationale citizen want to give up their right to have a firearm?

    • Jim June 12, 2021, 2:06 am

      The left gun haters and their Antifa and BLM thugs a 100% responsible for the surge in gun sales. I’ve had a rifle since I was in grammar school. I and a friend routinely carried our guns through the neighborhood to go shooting in the forest nearby. I’m not going to let a pack of thugs harm me or my family. I will not be left defenseless by the commie loons on the left.

  • Easy Eddie June 11, 2021, 11:00 am

    It must further scald the left that Judge Roger Thomas Benitez, was born in Havana, Cuba. Since he was appointed by “W”, I have no doubt the Dems and their little umbrella groups will be screaming to impeach him.

  • Jim June 11, 2021, 10:47 am

    First of all it’s a terrible tragedy what happened in FLORIDA and FLORIDA STATE should be addressing their GUN LAWS by asking THE PEOPLE (RESIDENTS OF FLORIDA) in regards to this issue. That being said the Democratic Party of CALIFORNIA, needs to Address THEIR OWN ISSUES on gun control IN CALIFORNIA. EACH STATE GOVERNS THEMSELVES, and THE PEOPLE DECIDE and NOT THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. So why is the Democratic Party of CALIFORNIA involved in the decisions of ANOTHER STATE (FLORIDA) That’s the real question? And when are the THE PEOPLE of these States going to stand up against these TYRANTS?

    • Dav June 14, 2021, 4:36 am

      “Shall not be infringed” doesn’t really leave a lot of room for Gun Control. Even the 1st amendment isn’t stated as plainly. It only says that “Congress shall make no law”. Of the two, that they made one very specific to Congress and the other to be an absolutely blanket statement is important.

  • IPDAILY June 11, 2021, 10:11 am

    When the voice of reason is spoken, it becomes imperative for the left to make a mockery of such words.
    We now live in a time where the left has taken commonsense and flipped it upside down. Where up is down and wrong is right. It is only through the words of such men as Judge Benitez. That we are given hope that our Republic and the Bill of Rights shall endure. God Bless the USA and Judge Benitez profound ruling.

  • Trevor June 11, 2021, 9:57 am

    When a cop shoots a criminal thug, the cop is blamed. When a criminal shoots up a night club, church, theater. Etc.. the gun is blamed.

    • sfvshooter June 11, 2021, 7:34 pm

      How about when a cop shoots an unarmed individual in the back?

      • J Franks June 12, 2021, 6:54 am

        They were reaching for a weapon or just about to charge like in one them there anne moos cartoons from Japan.

        Obviously.

  • Jeffrey Atherton June 11, 2021, 9:42 am

    An ,
    AR -15 it’s not an assault rifle, it’s not a military firearm it’s not full automatic it’s a sporting rifle can be used for hunting or target shooting,

  • Stephen Graham June 11, 2021, 9:12 am

    And objective, unbiased, clearly and honestly thought – out judgment!

  • OLD MORT June 11, 2021, 9:02 am

    Thank GOD for Judge Benitez’s ruling. Here in Minnesota with all of our ‘Minnesota Nice’ liberals, we are attacked all the time about gun ownership. Our liberal Governor and his liberal cohorts in the legislature are always plotting to take away our 2nd amendment rights. Our state has over a million hunters and gun enthusiasts that oppose them and so far we have held the line. But now with Judge Benitez’s decision we will have a better chance. I agree with Sitting Bull who once said: “If the government says you don’t need a gun…you need a gun.”

  • Major wrecks June 11, 2021, 8:54 am

    The 2A is explicite, Our elected representatives (not leaders don’t call them leaders) are supposed to uphold the law not pervert it they are supposed protect and insure our rights and liberties not infringe on them !!!

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” So creating gun laws that keep those of us that want to exercise our 2A rights is infringement period. What the left gun hating zeolots do is insidious the change the narative using words like Assult. to impose their will on us. I would consider any person that is trying to change the law to counter the 2A is a domestic enemy as far as types of arms Back in the day everybody had Muzzle loaders,or Muskets. Today we have A.R.s and I think the point Judge Benitez is making in his 94 page Ruling
    The lefts continued assult on the Secound Amendment should be stopped There I said it Assult The left is assulting me they are assulting you But the A.R. is not assulting anyone !!!

  • Dale Francis June 11, 2021, 8:16 am

    Zach hit the nail on the head. What he said is totally correct.

  • David June 11, 2021, 8:16 am

    Where is restitution for the wrong the Democrats have done?
    I was able to register my first AR in 1989.
    But in 2000 I had some modern sporting rifles MAK90‘a that I had just traded guns for that I couldn’t register because I didn’t have the information that they required to be able to get them registered so I had to get rid of them.
    We the people should have the right to have and carry for defense anything we want as per the 2nd amendment.
    The ruling is a very good step in the right direction but there is still so much more wrong being done to us by the Democrats like all of the taxes and fees, paper work and FFL requirements, the list of handguns that we are only allowed to by and so on.
    Keep up the fight for our rights and never surrender.

    • Wiz June 11, 2021, 2:40 pm

      David, it truly is a shame that you had to register your weapons. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Second Amendment that he weapons you own need to be registered. That part alone give the left an edge on folks with weapons. I would have hated to have to give up a weapon that I traded for only to get rid of it cause of some bogus ruling. I have a Mak-90 and it is a great plinking weapon. Keep up the good fight David, hang in there buddy may be a move to a gun friendly state would be in order.

  • Alej Marcos June 11, 2021, 8:10 am

    Bless his heart… Judge Benitez must be from Texas !

  • Jeff June 11, 2021, 7:59 am

    Excellent ruling. Judge Benitez needs our praise and support.

  • Pete Walsemann June 11, 2021, 7:08 am

    To win the propaganda war, one must make the “other” side sound evil. As Mr. Weiberg points out, “assault” weapons are a contrived name given to “scary” firearms.
    Shameless, factless accusations concerning a presumed bloodlust of gun owners helps perpetuate that propaganda. EVERY gun owner I know is a carefully law-abiding citizen looking to create an envelope of safety around themselves and their loved ones in the face of an increasingly evil world.
    Come Lord Jesus, come.

  • Anthony Romano June 11, 2021, 7:04 am

    If I use my so called “Assault Weapon “ to defend myself is it not then considered a “Defense Weapon “?

  • Zach Wieberg June 11, 2021, 5:57 am

    There’s no such thing as an “Assault Weapon”. Assault is an action not a weapon but it’s the only way Democrats can chip away our second Amendment right. “Tell a lie and make it believable and keep repeating it until the masses believe it, that’s how you control a Nation” Adolph Hitler. He was a Democratic Socialist just as the Democrats today are.

    • Rex June 11, 2021, 9:18 am

      Good point although it’s unlikely that Hitler (or Goebbels) actually said or coined the phrase. Likely from The Crown of a Life (1869) by Isa Blagden.

      • a11four1 June 11, 2021, 1:28 pm

        Good point, whether phrase can be attributed to Hitler/ Goebbels or not.
        No reason to think otherwise, in history or outcome.
        They understood it, they believed it, they followed it.

        With little time spent revising that part of history, might be warning it’s being used again?

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