Bryan Oberc, in Munster, Ind., tries out an AR-15 indigenous Sig Sauer in the exhibition room at the national Rifle Association annual Meeting in Indianapolis in 2019. Michael Conroy/AP hide caption

Bryan Oberc, in Munster, Ind., tries out an AR-15 from Sig Sauer in the exhibition hall at the national Rifle Association yearly Meeting in Indianapolis in 2019.

You are watching: California no right to bear arms

Michael Conroy/AP

For an ext than three decades, California has banned certain varieties of semiautomatic rifles consisting of the AR-15 under an "assault weapons" ban. On Friday, a federal judge threw out the ban, judgment that the violates the 2nd Amendment come the U.S. Constitution.

"The 2nd Amendment is around America"s freedom: the liberty to protect oneself, family, home, and homeland," Judge i get it Benitez composed for the U.S. District Court for the southerly District that California. "California"s attack weapon ban disrespects the freedom."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom referred to as the decision "a direct threat come public safety," and also state Attorney basic Rob Bonta has said the state would certainly appeal.

Courts different on whether attack weapons bans space constitutional. That"s due to the fact that the can be fried Court has actually never actually heard a case testing their constitutionality.


Supreme Court Backs right to Bear arms

2008 Story: can be fried Court: Individuals have Right come Bear Arms

The main guidance for lower courts comes from District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark 2008 decision permitting personal citizens to keep handguns in the home. The Heller test is straightforward: Is the firearm generally owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes?

"If the reduced courts were following Heller directly ... That would certainly be the end of the case," stated David Kopel, a constitutional regulation professor at Denver college Sturm college of Law, and adjunct scholar in ~ the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.

But part courts, including federal court in California, usage a multi-step check that calls for "policy-balancing," Kopel told That"s why Benitez"s 94-page opinion for this reason exhaustively examines the pros and cons of an assault weapons ban.

Among comparable cases that have actually been heard across the country, Benitez"s opinion is "by far the most thorough in its careful examination that the evidence," Kopel said.

"This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying in ~ the outer borders of 2nd Amendment protection," judge Benitez wrote. The guns that the California legislature had deemed "assault weapons" are actually "ordinary, popular, modern rifles," the said.

The judge to be trying to show how plain the AR-15 is since when a weapon is in common use, it"s defended by the second Amendment, stated Josh Blackman, a legislation professor at south Texas college of legislation Houston that is likewise an adjunct scholar at Cato.

"I think the instance for protecting the AR-15 is greater than the situation for protecting the handgun," Blackman said. "The second Amendment has a couple touchstones: One is self-defense. The various other one is protection from the federal government itself. This is the weapon."

Michael Morley, a professor of legislation at Florida State university College of Law and contributor come The Federalist Society, stated that the court "engaged v the document evidence, statistics, and factual underpinning of skilled witnesses" conclusions in ~ a highly granular level that detail."

But, morley told, "the opinion consists of some rhetorical flourishes and argumentative sections that i don"t think strike the right tone for a justice issuance."

One such rhetorical thrive came at the start of Benitez"s opinion. The judge contrasted the AR-15 come a "Swiss army Knife," calling that "a perfect mix of house defense weapon and also homeland defense weapon." Benitez, appointed to the bench in 2003 by president George W. Bush, repetitively criticized the state"s ban as a "failed experiment" the "has had no effect" on mass shootings in the 30 years it to be enacted.

The opinion reads favor it"s written "by an AR-15 salesman fairly than a constitutional analyst," claimed Larry Tribe, professor emeritus the constitutional regulation at Harvard regulation School. "The bias reasonably drips native the opinion, and also the evaluation certainly does no follow from the supreme Court"s jurisprudence around the second Amendment."

This isn"t the an initial time judge Benitez has actually weighed in top top controversial gun laws. In 2019, he struck under a state law banning total magazines that hold an ext than 10 bullets. "Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts," Benitez wrote at the time.

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It"s very likely the the 9th Circuit Court the Appeals will at some point reverse Benitez"s ruling, claimed Kopel, due to the fact that "no pro-Second revised has ever survived in the 9th Circuit."

After that, legitimate observers say, it"s possible the supreme Court will action in to clear up the matter. Yet that"s far from certain. In 2016, the high court decreased to hear a difficulty to attack weapons bans in Connecticut and new York. The year before, the court garbage a similar an obstacle over local ordinances in cook County, Ill.