Hopes that Californians would soon be able to buy AR-15s again were dashed on Monday.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay that will allow the state to enforce its ban on “assault weapons,” including the AR-15, while it appeals a lower court ruling. The court said the lower court ruling striking down the law as unconstitutional would be stayed until a separate pending case against the law is decided.
The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), a plaintiff in the case that won in the lower court, slammed the decision as antithetical to the court’s mission.
“The first duty of our federal courts is to uphold the Constitution and protect the People’s fundamental rights enshrined therein,” the gun-rights group said in a statement. “But today, as it has too many times before, the fanatically anti-Second Amendment Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals elected to disregard that fundamental duty, ignore the text and public meaning of our Constitution, and fail the very People they swore an oath to serve.”
On June 4, Judge Roger Benitez ruled California’s ban violates the Second Amendment. He argued the law runs afoul of precedent established in the landmark Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller because it bans popular guns commonly used for sport shooting and home defense.
“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection,” Benitez wrote. “The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes. Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.
“This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes.”
Benitez granted a temporary stay to allow California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D.) to appeal the decision, which the state took advantage of almost before the ink was dry. Twenty-two Republican attorneys general then filed a brief asking the Ninth Circuit not to stay the ruling, ultimately to no avail.
FPC argued the case would not have been stayed if it “were about a similarly broad abortion ban, restrictive immigration policy, or reduction of voting rights” opposed by liberals, and it slammed the court for what it considers a dereliction of duty.
“Today the Ninth Circuit chose government tyranny over human lives and rights,” the group said. “If the federal courts wish to remain a relevant part of this Republic’s system of ordered liberty, then they should do their [well-paid, lifetime-tenure] jobs and stand up for the rights of the people of the United States in every case—not merely when it is convenient to them and anti-rights radicals like Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta.”