In a 94 page decision, Judge Roger T. Benitez of California’s ruled that the ban on AR-style rifles is unconstitutional. Read the judge’s decision yourself since he wrote in language that even a journalist can understand. At best I can summarize a few of my favorite parts.
According to Judge Benitez the AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.. the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the firearms protected under Heller and Miller yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have one.
When a citizen complains that the government is infringing, then it is the government that must carry the burden of justifying its restriction of Second Amendment rights.
The fact that a civilian rifle has design features similar to a military rifle does not detract from its constitutional protection, in fact, it actually enhances a firearm’s constitutional protection for militia readiness. The Court finds that the prohibited features do not change an AR-15 rifle from a benign weapon into an “incredibly effective killing machine.”
This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned “assault weapons” are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes.
The news media persuades us that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts do not support this, and facts matter. Assault rifles were not the predominant type of weapon used in crimes.. handguns were..
According to the FBI, killing by knife attack is far more common than murder by a rifle. In California in particular, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by any kind of rifle. A Californian is three times more likely to be murdered by an attacker’s bare hands, fists, or feet, than by his rifle.. The same pattern can be observed across the nation.
The state says that the banned features of an assault rifle make the gun more accurate. It is not clear that a less accurate rifle would reduce the number of victims in a mass shooting. A less accurate rifle may very well result in different victims, but not necessarily fewer victims. On the other hand, in the self-defense context, which seems to be far more common, taking accurate shots at attackers is vitally important for the innocent victim.
In California, mere possession of a banned rifle that is commonplace and perfectly legal under federal law and in forty-four other states will land you in prison, will result in the loss of your rights including likely the right to vote, and probably will cause you irreparable monetary and reputational damages, as well as your personal liberty.
Over the last three decades, 19,797,000 modern rifles have been manufactured or imported into the United States. There are twice as many modern rifles in circulation than there are Ford F-150 pickup trucks.
To pass intermediate scrutiny, the assault weapons ban must address a real harm and alleviate the harm in a material way. The evidence described so far proves that the “harm” of an assault rifle being used in a mass shooting is an infinitesimally rare event.
The Constitution does not force citizens to arm themselves for their own protection but it does protect the liberty and freedom of those who choose to do so.
Government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where Constitutional rights are concerned. The Second Amendment takes certain policy choices and removes them beyond the realm of permissible state action. California may certainly conceive of a policy that a modern rifle is dangerous in the hands of a criminal, and that therefore it is good public policy to keep modern rifles out of the hands of every citizen. The Second Amendment stands as a shield from government imposition of that policy.
As usual with those who hate our Constitutional freedoms, the Attorney General of the state of California has already appealed the judge’s decision.