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Gun Control Howls, Gnashes Teeth When California's Rifle Ban Struck

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U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- Gun control supporters are howling. They’re gnashing teeth with rage knowing that their “failed experiment” and labyrinth of lies came crashing down. Their gun grab is revealed for what it is – unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez struck down California’s 30-year-old ban on Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) when he issued his ruling on Miller v. Bonta, a challenge against the state’s law banning so-called “assault rifles.” Judge Benitez cleanly took apart the law by asking simple questions. Does the law violate the Constitution? Does the law adhere to judicial precedent? Are AR-15s commonly owned?

Truck-sized Argument Holes

On the Constitutionality question he wrote, “The Second Amendment protects modern weapons… They are principally AR-15 type rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Plaintiffs and others refer to them as “modern sporting rifles” although they are clearly useful for more than just sport.”

On the question of judicial precedent, Judge Benitez examined it both under the landmark Heller decision, which held there is a pre-existing individual right to keep and bear arms in common use (that applies to the States) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s “two-step levels-of-scrutiny test.”

“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,” Judge Benitez wrote. “Under Heller, that is all that is needed. Using the easy to understand Heller test, it is obvious that the California assault weapon ban is unconstitutional. Under the Heller test, judicial review can end right here.”

Judge Benitez wrote that the Ninth Circuit’s two-step test, unlike Heller, is anything but simple. The first step is determining if the law is presumptively lawful or a historical regulation. California’s ban fails on both counts. The second step questions the scrutiny the prospective law would require and examines the burden it places on the Second Amendment. Since the Second Amendment clearly holds the right of self-defense in the highest regard, and California’s ban criminalizes the ability to defend oneself in the home with an MSR, it fails the scrutiny test.

“When a severe restriction on the core right of self-defense amounts to a destruction of the Second Amendment right, it is unconstitutional under any level of scrutiny,” Judge Benitez wrote.

The final question of whether MSRs are commonly-owned was asked and answered effectively.

“As applied to [Assault Weapons Control Act], 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.’”

Judge Benitez noted that as of 2018, there were nearly 20 million MSRs in circulation. “There are probably more modern rifles in circulation than there are Ford F-150 pickup trucks,” he wrote. “In 2018, 909,330 Ford F-150s were sold. Twice as many modern rifles were sold the same year. Imagine, every time one passes a new Ford pickup truck, it is a reminder that two new modern rifles have been purchased. That is a lot of modern rifles owned by Americans.”

Lamentations of the Left

This has gun control baying at the moon.

Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America and vice president at the far-left think tank Center for American Progress, let loose with a rapid-fire tweetstorm. He started out calling the ruling “infuriating,” claiming a 30-round magazine can be fired off in less than five seconds (maybe by Jerry Miculek), somehow attempts to argue that just two rounds are used in self-defense, which Judge Benitez discredited, and ends with demands from liberal lawmakers on how they’re going to write laws that survive Constitutional examination by the courts.

Short answer, Volsky, they won’t and shouldn’t.

Keith Olbermann, a sports commentator who went far-left on politics before getting drummed off even liberal networks, called Judge Benitez a “death-worshiping, fascist” on Twitter.  Olbermann didn’t account for the specific references Judge Benitez made to the inherent right of self-defense, which is life preservation, by definition.

Stanford University law professor and gun control advocate John Donahue, whose gun control testimony was discredited by Judge Benitez, told The Mercury News, “This has been a long-term effort on the part of the gun lobby, but until they got the fifth (conservative) justice, I thought it was largely going to be ineffectual. But now, we are at great peril.”

He’s right on one count. NSSF has been pushing a long-term effort to get the courts to apply the law according to the Constitution.

Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence called Judge Benitez an “extreme outlier.” This is the same Giffords organization that still employs David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Chipman wants to ban “assault weapons” but couldn’t define them when questioned at his recent confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

California Vows Disarmament

Judge Benitez granted a stay in his decision to allow California’s Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office called the decision a “slap in the face” and promised, “We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common-sense gun laws that will save lives.”

California has among the strictest gun control laws and prefers its citizens to remain unarmed and helpless when their lives are threatened. Judge Benitez noted that distinction in his decision when he compared California’s litigation stance to views professed by Oakland’s police chief that crime victims shouldn’t arm themselves, but be willing victims who can testify against their attackers.

“Of course, a dead victim is a lousy witness,” Judge Benitez noted.

Judge Benitez also outlined the importance of the courts defending the rights of the citizens against an overzealous government authority that would nullify rights in the name of public safety.

“In the end, the Bill of Rights is not a list of suggestions or guidelines for social balancing. The Bill of Rights prevents the tyranny of the majority from taking away the rights of a minority,” Judge Benitez wrote. “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. At the same time, the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms to use should the militia be needed to fight against invaders, terrorists, and tyrants. The Second Amendment is about America’s freedom: the freedom to protect oneself, family, home, and homeland. California’s assault weapon ban disrespects that freedom.”

This is how Judge Benitez makes gun control howl.


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4 hours ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

None of them bothered to read the whole decision. 

Oh, many have. In detail.


I think that is why they are attacking the decision (actually the judge) by taking the Swiss Army Knife reference literally rather than figuratively... The platform is versatile, and can serve many purposes.


Obviously, a knife is not the same as a firearm.


And that is where the anti-gunners even get it more wrong! A criminal threatening with a knife is likely more willing to get up close and personal than not; a criminal with a gun is more likely to be using it as a tool to maintain distance.


In that sense, the Swiss Army Knife is more dangerous than a firearm. More specifically, the assailant threatening with a knife is likely more dangerous than an assailant with threatening with a firearm.


I wish they would stop focusing on the tool and focus on the evil intent behind it.

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13 minutes ago, John Kloehr said:

I wish they would stop focusing on the tool and focus on the evil intent behind it.


"For men of understanding do not say that the sword is to blame for murder, nor wine for drunkenness, nor strength for outrage, nor courage for foolhardiness, but they lay the blame on those who make an improper use of the gifts which have been bestowed upon them by God, and punish them accordingly. " St. John Chrysostom, On The Priesthood (Book III)

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I have attached the complete Miller decision below just in case anyone wants to read it.  It's a scant 94 pages but an excellent read and the correct decision was made.  We all know that CA will appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit who will overturn Judge Benitez decision and then it will go before SCOTUS which should reverse the 9th Circuit decision.  When that reversal happens it will make it near impossible for other states to impose a ban.  This is why many states are urging CA not to appeal the decision but just deal with it; they don't want CA to ruin their chances for a ban, or cause their current bans (if any) to be unconstitutional because of the actions of CA.  Judge Benitez is the 1st Judge to ask the USMS to bring him the rifle in question as well as explain it's operation to him so he would have 1st hand working knowledge about what he had to make a decision on.  Now I consider that is great judicial prudence. 


Decision -- Miller 20210604.pdf

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