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    ‘Assault weapons’ bans are indeed unconstitutional (and bad policy)
    • October 26, 2023

    California remains committed to pursuing stringent gun control measures as one of the most anti-gun and anti-freedom states in the nation. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon, as the state legislature passes bill after bill to further restrict the right of law-abiding Californians to protect themselves.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom has even made gutting the Second Amendment the theme of his politically-motivated, national campaign for a “28th Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. Unless Governor Newsom succeeds in doing something that’s never happened in our 250-year history, California’s gun control laws must still comply with the principles outlined in our nation’s founding charter.

    This month, United States District Court Judge Roger Benitez ruled that California’s law banning so-called “assault weapons” violates the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.  Citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Judge Benitez said “[California] has identified no national tradition of firearm regulation so broad in its coverage or so far reaching in its effect as its extreme ‘assault weapon’ statutes.”  He is absolutely right.

    As you’ll recall, last year the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in NYSRPA v. Bruen, which held that states seeking to implement gun control laws must demonstrate that they are “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation” in order to be lawful.  Bruen therefore created an important constitutional test, which California’s “assault weapons” ban just failed.  The ban’s scope is overly broad in banning entire classifications of widely owned firearms, and California could not demonstrate its alignment with historical precedents.

    Not only are bans on so-called “assault weapons” unconstitutional, they’re also bad policy. Let’s first set the record straight on defining the category of firearm.  “Assault weapon” is an arbitrary term generally used by anti-gun activists and politicians to refer to semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.  Not only are they among the most commonly owned guns in the country for home protection, including among women who find them easy to shoot safely and accurately, they’re used in a small fraction of firearm related deaths.

    According to a Pew Research Center analysis, “rifles – the category that includes guns sometimes referred to as ‘assault weapons’ – were involved in just 3% of firearm murders” in 2020.  Despite attempts by gun control supporters to portray semi-automatic rifles as a boogeyman responsible for a vast amount of deaths nationwide, the data simply does not support this claim.  There’s also scant evidence that “assault weapons” bans would reduce violent crime.  Even generous assessments of the 1994 crime bill, which banned certain types of semi-automatic rifles for a decade, show it had little to no impact on reducing crime or gun-related deaths.

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    Every year it becomes more evident that sweeping bans on entire classifications of firearms not only can’t pass constitutional muster, but they’re also not the answer to our nation’s growing violent crime problem.  It’s more important than ever for law-abiding citizens to grasp this reality and stand up for their rights – that’s why the U.S. Concealed Carry Association for Saving Lives Action Fund is working to educate and empower responsible gun owners to become citizen lobbyist, equipped with the information and platform they need to push back against bad policies like “assault weapons” bans.

    In California, the ability to protect yourself and your loved ones will continue to hang in the balance as the state seeks to appeal this recent ruling.  Ask yourself if you think they truly have your best interests – your freedom and your fundamental right to self-defense – in mind.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that they don’t.  Fortunately, the Constitution will have the final say.

    Katie Pointer Baney is the managing director of government affairs for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association and executive director of theUSCCA for Saving Lives Action Fund.

    ​ Orange County Register