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A federal judge, who compares an AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife, overturns California’s ban on assault weapons

KTVZ file

In a ruling that compared the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife, a federal judge overturned California’s longtime ban on assault weapons on Friday, ruling it violates the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

Assault weapons have been banned in California since 1989, according to the ruling. The law has been updated several times since it was originally passed.

According to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego, the assault weapons ban deprives Californians from owning assault-style weapons commonly allowed in other states. Benitez issued a permanent injunction Friday so the law cannot be enforced.

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling. “Firearms deemed as ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”

AR-15 style weapons have been used in mass shootings

In his ruling, the judge also criticized the news media, writing, “One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”

However, as CNN has previously reported, AR-15 style rifles have been the weapon of choice for numerous mass shooters, including in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Route 91 Harvest musical festival in Las Vegas, a massacre at a church in Texas, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the high school in Parkland, Florida, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, among others.

Last year, Benitez ruled California’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. He also struck down the state’s restriction on remote purchases of gun ammunition.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized the ruling Friday, calling AR-15’s a “weapon of war.”

He said in a statement that the comparison made by the judge between a Swiss Army Knife and the AR-15 “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.”

Newsom added: “We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives.”

The ruling and injunction are stayed for 30 days, during which time the Attorney General may appeal and seek a stay from the Court of Appeals.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he will be appealing the ruling. “Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it,” Bonta said in a news release.

“There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with swiss army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities,” his statement said.


CNN Newsource



  1. In a way, the judge is correct. The Swiss Army knife and the AR15 are both tolls. What CNN didn’t quote was that the judge also said, “the firearms banned under the state’s law were not “bazookas, howitzers or machine guns,” but rather “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.” And the judge also wrote, ““In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle,” and ““This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,” the ruling said. “One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”

    1. Another difference is the body count a terrorist can rack up in a few minutes with an AR compared to a knife of any type. An AR might not be a Howitzer or machine gun, but sure isn’t a Swiss Army knife either.

  2. I’m not as concerned about “assault” rifles (i.e. ugly) as I am about the add-ons such as high capacity magazines, bump stocks, silencers, etc. that can make it or almost any other firearm into a mass killing machine. As far as calling it a “Swiss Army Knife,” until they start building a bottle opener and toothpick into the stock, I’d say that’s not an accurate description.

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