A federal judge overturned California’s decades-old ban on assault weapons

A man walks with an American flag mask over his face and carries a white flag with the image of a gun that reads "come and take it."
A gun rights activist walks near a closed Virginia State Capitol on Lobby Day January 18, 2021 in Richmond, Va.

  • A US federal judge overturned California’s ban on assault weapons on Friday.
  • The ban had been in place since 1989, but the judge ruled it violated constitutional rights.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized the decision as a “direct threat to public safety.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal judge overturned California’s decades-old ban on assault weapons on Friday.

US District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego ruled the ban violated citizen’s constitutional right to bear arms which is protected by the Second Amendment.

“The Supreme Court clearly holds that the Second Amendment protects guns commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes,” Benitez wrote in the ruling.

Benitez, a George W. Bush appointee who joined the US District Court in 2004, said the way California defines assault weapons unlawfully prevents citizens from obtaining guns that are allowed in most US states.

“The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns. 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,” he continued.

California’s assault weapons ban was first passed in 1989. The lift of the ban will take effect in 30 days.

Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized the decision: “Today’s decision is a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period. As the son of a judge, I grew up with deep respect for the judicial process and the importance of a judge’s ability to make impartial fact-based rulings, but the fact that this judge compared the AR-15 – a weapon of war that’s used on the battlefield – to a Swiss Army Knife completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon.”

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Biden unveiled 6 executive actions to curb gun violence, including model ‘red flag’ laws and action on ‘ghost guns’

Biden
President Joe Biden speaks about the Colorado shootings in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2021.

  • Biden announced a series of actions his administration is taking to address gun violence.
  • The actions include drafting model “red flag” laws and tackling “ghost guns.”
  • The announcement comes in the wake of recent mass shootings and homicide spikes in US cities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a series of actions his administration is taking to address gun violence in the US.

“The President is committed to taking action to reduce all forms of gun violence – community violence, mass shootings, domestic violence, and suicide by firearm,” the White House said in a statement.

The actions come on the heels of increased gun violence in many US cities and an uptick in mass shootings, including at a grocery store in Colorado where 10 people were killed and at Atlanta-area spas where eight people were killed.

“President Biden is reiterating his call for Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence,” the statement said. “But this Administration will not wait for Congress to act to take its own steps – fully within the Administration’s authority and the Second Amendment – to save lives.”

The actions, which do not have to go through Congress, include tackling “ghost guns,” drafting model “red flag” laws, and a firearms-trafficking report.

Read more: Marijuana prohibition is withering away, but the human carnage it caused is permanent. Governments should take action to atone for their Drug War sins.

“Ghost guns” are firearms that are built at home by buying individual parts or kits that contain the parts. They are fully functioning guns that do not have a serial number or other identifying information, making them difficult to trace when recovered after a crime.

Biden is giving the Justice Department 30 days to draft a proposed rule that would “help stop the proliferation of these firearms.”

The Justice Department also has 60 days to draft model “red flag” legislation for states. Red flag laws allow family members or friends to alert authorities and seek a court order against someone obtaining a gun if they believe them to be a danger to themselves or others. Biden is encouraging Congress to pass a federal red flag law but wants model legislation for states working to pass their own laws.

Another action includes directing the Justice Department to issue a “new, comprehensive report on firearms trafficking and annual updates” that lawmakers can use when addressing gun trafficking. According to the statement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms issued a firearms-trafficking report in 2000 that lawmakers still use today to draft policy.

The announcement also outlined multiple ways the administration plans to invest in “evidence-based community violence interventions,” including a $5 billion investment in Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

“Community violence interventions are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration,” the statement said.

The Justice Department will also devise a rule within 60 days that determines when a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace is more like a rifle, and thus falls under the National Firearms Act. The statement says the suspected shooter at the grocery store in Colorado last month “appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.”

The White House also named David Chipman as Biden’s nomination for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Chipman worked in the bureau for decades and currently works as an adviser to a gun control advocacy group.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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