California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta on Thursday filed an appeal to a federal court decision that overturned the state’s ban on assault weapons, arguing that the law is needed “to protect the safety of Californians.”
The appeal seeks to reverse Friday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, who said the state’s three-decade ban on assault weapons is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of California gun owners that “has had no effect” on curtailing mass shootings.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Bonta in making the announcement at Zuckerman San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, a leading facility for treating gunshot victims.
“California’s assault weapons ban has saved lives, and we refuse to let these weapons of war back onto our streets,” said Newsom, who was elected on a platform that included expanding gun control laws. “This is a fight California will never back down from, period.”
The case has implications for gun laws beyond California. Six other states and the District of Columbia followed California in adopting their own assault weapons bans, and Congress enacted a ban in 1994, although it expired 10 years later.
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Though other courts have upheld assault weapon bans, supporters of the gun law worry Benitez’s decision is part of a strategy by the gun lobby to get cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, where appointments by former President Trump are seen as more sympathetic to 2nd Amendment arguments.
“A lot is on the line,” Newsom said.
The judge issued a permanent injunction against the enforcement of key provisions of the law, but stayed the order for 30 days to allow the state to appeal.
Bonta said his filing on Thursday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco asks for the stay to be extended until the case is decided.