California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced last week that the state has appealed a federal court ruling declaring California’s ban on assault weapons unconstitutional.
Several state officials, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, shared their disagreements with the court’s ruling during a press conference held at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The state has partnered with a number of gun control advocates for the event, including the Brady Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center.
“We agree that the decision was disappointing,” said Bonta. “In many ways the opinion has been troubling and troubling and a major concern, but we can’t let that put us off,” he said.
Federal Judge Roger Thomas Benitez directed the decision in Miller v. Bonta. The case was heard in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
Bonta said his office has appealed the decision and requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District keep the applicable laws in place for 30 days.
California’s gun laws are among the strictest in the country under the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 (AWCA), which prohibits the use of certain models of firearms that are classified as assault weapons.
In the pending Miller v. Bonta trial, James Miller, an attorney serving on the board of directors of the San Diego County Gun Owners, advocated the use of the AR-15 rifle. However, the semi-automatic rifle with certain features is an illegal assault weapon under the California Gun Act.
Miller argued that under the second amendment, AR-15 rifles can be used for self-defense. Miller, who is also a member of the Cajon Valley School Board, first challenged former Attorney General Xavier Becerra in April of this year over California’s criminalization of AR-15 rifles.
The ongoing case, which Bonta inherited, sparked heated debates over gun laws as gun violence and mass shootings increased.
Breed recalled her personal experiences with gun violence growing up in the Bay Area.
“We’re here at the San Francisco General Hospital. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been here after a friend I grew up with was shot, ”she said.
Breed was supported by Mattie Scott, who lost her son to gun violence. The mayor grew up with Scott’s son, who was killed at a graduation ceremony in San Francisco in 1996.
“We don’t want to see another person, another child who is lost to gun violence in this city in this state in this country,” said Breed.
“We’ve had a law on the state’s books for over 30 years, and a judge decides our law is no longer constitutional. This law has saved countless lives, ”she said.
According to the Statista Research Department, there were a total of 22 mass shootings in California between 1982 and 2021. In the court decision, Benitez compared the effectiveness of an AR-15 rifle with a Swiss Army knife. According to the federal court ruling, the semi-automatic machine gun is “good for home and for combat,” said Benitez.
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of a home defense weapon and home defense equipment,” said the federal judge on behalf of Miller.
Although the murder of Scott’s son has not yet been solved, she is a passionate activist for social justice related to gun violence.
“The judge who made this decision was wrong,” said Scott. “It is insulting to read his decision when he mentioned the type of weapon that killed my son like a pocket knife,” she said.
“Pocket knives don’t tear families apart. They don’t shoot schools, churches, cinemas and street corners, “she said, referring to recent mass shootings across the country.
Contrary to Benitez’s belief that AR-15 rifles can be compared to pocket knives, trauma surgeon Dr. Andre Campbell that the semi-automatic rifle is a deadly assault weapon designed for the battlefield.
“An AR-15 is a weapon of mass destruction. It is used on the battlefield to kill the enemy. It is a weapon used in warfare and should not be available on the streets of the United States, ”Campbell said.
Campbell has treated many gunshot wounds on the front lines of trauma care for more than two decades and has witnessed the havoc a single bullet can wreak in the human body.
“It’s like a bomb explodes in patient tissue,” says Campbell, describing the effects of an AR-15 bullet on patients he has treated over the years.
Giffords Law Center executive director Robyn Thomas said the federal judge’s decision to allow civilians access to military-grade weapons will reset California gun laws by 32 years.
“The decision is not based on the correct legal interpretation,” said Thomas. “The comprehensive gun ordinance that we pioneered here in the state protects the lives of Californians. It makes us safer, ”she said.
In its budget for 2021-22, the state allocated $ 200 million to the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program. The investment was launched to prevent gun violence in high-risk communities across the country.
“People who rave about public safety and (then) sit back passively and say nothing about this outrageous decision. Shame on you. What scams, ”Newsom said.
The governor asked lawmakers to evaluate the absurdity of the court’s decision to justify personal use of a rifle that is “nothing more than a weapon of war,” he said.
The governor said gun control has always been a bipartisan issue that has helped California lawmakers pass “progressive and aggressive” gun safety laws that governed the right of the population to carry guns for three decades.