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Brady Condemns Ruling by Federal Judge Invalidating California’s Assault Weapons Ban

Washington, D.C., June 7, 2021 - Following the ruling by Judge Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California declared California’s over 30-year-old ban on assault-style weapons unconstitutional, Brady reiterates that Judge Benitez’s ruling is ahistorical, wrongly decided, and will be reversed on appeal. Bans on assault-style weapons have long been held constitutional and are vital, public-safety laws that save lives.

Brady California President Mattie Scott shared:

“As the mother of a son who was killed with an assault weapon here in California 25 years ago, I am devastated and appalled at this decision, especially after what just happened in San Jose, the lives lost at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2019, in San Bernardino in 2015, and the multiple mass shootings in our state in recent years. This is unacceptable and we will continue to fight for our state’s ban on assault weapons. Weapons of war have no place in our communities. Already, too many lives are lost in school shootings, mall shootings, and as well as in Black and Brown communities every day. This is an attack on our safety here in California and a dangerous attack on the safety of our nation. We will not stop in our fight; it is about all of us and all of our safety.”

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“Judge Benitez has demonstrated time and again that his interpretation of the Second Amendment is extreme and out of step with longstanding jurisprudence and historical precedent, and frankly, just wrong. It is why we expect this decision to be reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, Judge Benitez has shown the risk of danger to our nation’s public-safety laws, as fringe groups purporting an incorrect interpretation of gun rights have found comfort and aid from federal judges. This is an attack on the common-sense laws that citizens continue to demand and lawmakers have worked to enact and defend. California’s ban is over 30 years old. Despite this, Judge Benitez has taken it upon himself to invalidate it and threaten the safety of all Californians. Brady will not remain silent on this issue and supports California Attorney General Robert Bonta’s actions to preserve this life-saving law.

Brady Vice President, Legal, Jonathan Lowy shared:

“The Framers who drafted the Second Amendment to protect well-regulated state armies would be horrified to see their words misconstrued to enshrine a supposed constitutional right for civilians to have weapons of war. The Constitution does not deprive Americans of the authority to enact the strong gun laws they want and need to keep their communities safe. Americans have a right to live, and that right cannot be infringed by the gun industry’s desire to sell more AR-15s. This dangerous decision shows what’s at stake when the Supreme Court and other courts contemplate taking away the right of Amercans to decide gun policy through democratic processes.”

About this Case:

In 2019, California resident James Miller and additional plaintiffs such as the San Diego County Gun Owners, a political action committee, challenged California’s 32-year-old ban on assault-style weapons. On June 5, 2021, Judge Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that California’s ban violated the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, striking down the state’s ban. Judge Benitez wrongly compared assault-style weapons to a swiss army knife while calling the ban a “failed experiment.”

In his decision, Judge Benitez issued a 30-day stay of the ruling, permitting California Attorney General Rob Bonta to appeal it. Brady supports California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Bonta’s efforts to preserve California’s long-standing ban and maintains that this law is constitutional.

About Assault-Style Weapons:

An “assault weapon” refers to a semi-automatic gun designed for military use and quick, efficient killing. Assault weapons are uniquely lethal because of their rapid rate of fire and high muzzle velocity — coupled with high-capacity magazines, which attach to an assault weapon to allow dozens of gunshots without needing to reload. An analysis of mass shootings between 2009 to 2018 shows that in shootings where assault weapons were used, six times as many people were shot compared to those without them. These weapons also make our law enforcement officers less safe — in 2014, one in five officers killed in the line of duty were killed by assault weapons. Over a third of law enforcement agencies surveyed after the expiration of the federal assault weapon ban reported that they experienced a noticeable increase in criminals’ use of assault weapons. Law enforcement organizations have long supported laws prohibiting assault weapons because the agencies charged with protecting the public are effectively being “outgunned” by militarized civilians and criminals with easy access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Seven states, including California, and Washington, D.C., have enacted laws banning assault weapons

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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