Federal Judge Praises the AR-15, Crushes California's 'Assault Weapons' Ban

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

For 2nd Amendment proponents in California, owning a so-called “assault weapon” just got easier.

Easier, because it will be legal.


On Friday United States District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez issued an opinion after a trial on the merits in a lawsuit brought by Firearms Policy Coalition, ruling California’s ban unconstitutional and praising the AR-15.


In fact, his decision called it “a perfect combination of a home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”

Judge Benitez likened the rifle to “the Swiss Army Knife.”

It’s good, he asserted, “for both home and battle.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who led the infamous Prop 63 gun control measure in 2016 (before he became governor) wasn’t too thrilled with that comparison.

The design’s been a favored target of gun control proponents, their fervor perhaps crescendoing with Beto O’Rourke’s bold campaign promise:

Among some on Beto’s side (including the man himself), it was made clear: Possession of the AR would be 86’d, but America’s hunting rifles would remain legal.

Oddly, none of the above accounted for the fact that the AR-15 is the best-selling hunting rifle in America – and that’s one point that was argued by the Plaintiffs:

In 2019, FPC developed and filed Miller v. Becerra, a federal Second Amendment challenge to California’s Assault Weapons Control Act (AWCA) ban on common semiautomatic arms with certain characteristics, including those with ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. Throughout the lawsuit, FPC argued that the State’s ban prohibits arms that are constitutionally protected, no more lethal than other certain arms that are not banned, and commonly possessed and used for lawful purposes in the vast majority of the United States.


Back to Judge Benitez, he made a particular reference that surely disturbed many on the anti-gun side of the aisle. Likely alluding to the Constitution, he praised the AR-15 for its “militia readiness.”

The ruling came as California Attorney General Rob Bonta recognized June 4th as “Gun Violence Awareness Day.”

As for the judge’s decision, will Californians now have access to rifles others in the country can liberally buy?

That remains to be seen — NBC observes there’s “plenty of time for the state to file an appeal,” but FPC pointed out in a press release that Judge Benitez also:

“[O]rder[ed] an injunction against “Defendant Attorney General Rob Bonta, and his officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and those persons in active concert or participation with him, and those duly sworn state peace officers and federal law enforcement officers who gain knowledge of this injunction order or know of the existence of this injunction order,” preventing them “from implementing or enforcing” the following:

California Penal Code §§ 30515(a)(1) through (8) (defining an “assault weapon” by prohibited features);

§ 30800 (deeming those “assault weapons” a public nuisance);

§ 30915 (regulating those “assault weapons” obtained by bequest or inheritance);

§ 30925 (restricting importation of those “assault weapons” by new residents);

§ 30945 (restricting use of those registered “assault weapons”) ;

§30950 (prohibiting possession of those “assault weapons” by minors); and,

the penalty provisions §§ 30600, 30605 and 30800 as applied to “assault weapons” defined in Code §§ 30515(a)(1) through (8).


Judge Benitez said citizens owning AR-15s, essentially, is none of California’s business:

“[T]he State of California makes it a crime to have an AR15 type rifle. Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.”

FPC attorney George Lee said:

“At trial, we presented dispositive evidence that the term ‘assault weapon’ has always been an arbitrary label used by anti-gun governments to ban constitutionally protected firearms. In the end, the State’s rationale for banning these firearms simply could not hold up. This win is a watershed moment for civil rights, and will restore liberty to countless Californians that have been subjected to gross tyranny for years.”

Stay tuned for more gun news in The Golden State, where “AR” stands for “Ain’t Republican.”

If the ruling’s overturned, there may yet be hope for West Coast rifle enthusiasts.

After all, there’s still the formidable AR-14:



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