“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” he wrote in Friday’s decision.
“Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR15 type rifle,” Benitez continued. “Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.”
He praised the AR-15 as a rifle that should be formally protected by the law for its “militia readiness.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom was indignant in a statement late Friday.
“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,” he said.
The office of Attorney General Rob Bonta said it would appeal.
“Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it,” Bonta said in a statement Friday night. “There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with swiss army knives.”
The Firearms Policy Coalition, which backed the suit, celebrated the decision. “We look forward to continuing this challenge at the Ninth Circuit and, should it be necessary, the Supreme Court,” the group’s president, Brandon Combs, said in a statement.
The ruling came as Bonta recognized “Gun Violence Awareness Day.” “In California, we have strong gun laws developed with the public’s safety in mind,” he said in a statement earlier Friday.