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California appeals judge's ruling to overturn assault rifle ban

California filed an appeal Thursday to overturn a district court's ruling declaring its ban on assault rifles such as AR-15s, like the one pictured here, unconstitutional. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
California filed an appeal Thursday to overturn a district court's ruling declaring its ban on assault rifles such as AR-15s, like the one pictured here, unconstitutional. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

June 10 (UPI) -- California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced the state appealed a district court's ruling declaring its ban on assault rifles unconstitutional.

In addition to filing an appeal, Bonta will also ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to stay the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to overturn the ban, extending the current 30-day stay on the decision and leave the laws in effect throughout the appeals process.

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Bonta said in a statement that Judge Roger Benitez's ruling last week, which compared the AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army knife, "has no basis in law or fact."

"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. We have appealed the district court's ruling and will continue our defense of the state's commonsense gun laws," Bonta said.

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Bonta argued that the AR-15 should be banned under state law because its features are characteristic of military weapons, which are designed to be accurate with rapid firing that is not needed for self-defense.

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In his ruling, however, Benitez acknowledged that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to keep and carry "any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." But he referred to "assault weapons" as "fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles."

California became the first state to ban the sale of semiautomatic guns in 1989 after a shooting at an elementary school.

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"California's assault weapons ban has saved lives and we refuse to let these weapons of war back onto our streets," Newsom said. "This ban was enacted after a shooting that took the lives of five schoolchildren and injured countless more and my administration will do whatever it takes to continue protecting Californians and leading the nation in gun safety laws. This is a fight California will never back down from, period."

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