Federal judge strikes down decades-old California ban on assault weapons

By Taylor Romine | CNN

A federal judge has overturned a decades-old California law banning assault weapons, calling the restriction “extreme” and unconstitutional.

US District Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled Thursday the ban impedes on residents’ Second Amendment rights and has no historical precedent, as is required by a landmark Supreme Court decision last year that changed the test courts are to use when determining the constitutionality of firearms regulations.

Benitez relied on a similar argument when he struck down California’s ban on high-capacity magazines last month.

The state argued the law aims to prevent mass shooters from gaining access to assault weapons. But Benitez countered many of the banned firearms are also commonly used by “law-abiding” citizens for self-defense.

“California’s answer to the criminal misuse of a few is to disarm its many good residents. That knee-jerk reaction is constitutionally untenable, just as it was 250 years ago,” Benitez wrote in his decision.

The law struck down by Benitez includes a broad definition of assault weapons, which includes a variety of semi-automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns.