Opinion: California’s Gun Laws Headed for a Showdown Before a Conservative Supreme Court

Supreme Court building
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington at sunset. REUTERS/Erin Scott

California governors, legislators and voters have been imposing additional restrictions on guns and ammunition, one atop another, for more than a half-century on the theory that they save lives.

California now has the nation’s most restrictive gun laws but gun owners contend that they violate the U.S. Constitution’s “right to bear arms,” and the issue could land in the Supreme Court after three decisions by one federal judge supporting that contention.

San Diego Judge Roger Benitez issued his latest decision last week, declaring that the state’s 32-year-old ban on “assault weapons” violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection,” Benitez wrote. “The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes,” his ruling said. “Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern.”

Previously, Benitez had ruled against a state ban on firearm magazines containing more than 10 cartridges and a requirement that ammunition purchasers must undergo background checks.

Times of San Diego