Twenty-two Republican-led states have filed a court brief in support of a decision that struck down California’s “assault weapons” ban last month as the state appeals to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 22 states, led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, said in a June 15 filing (pdf) that the 9th Circuit should uphold a lower court decision to strike down a ban on what California describes as illegal military-style rifles. Earlier this month, a federal judge issued an injunction and gave the state 30 days to file an appeal.
“The experience in Arizona and other states shows that modern rifles are common to the point of ubiquity among law-abiding gun owners and their use promotes public safety,” the states’ court filing reads.
Furthermore, Brnovich argued that describing “modern rifles” as “assault rifles” is a misnomer, claiming that such rifles are the ones “most often used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes like personal protection or target and sport shooting.
“There is nothing sinister about citizens keeping or bearing a modern rifle,” the court filing states. “Law-abiding citizens keeping and bearing modern rifles benefit public safety, counter-balance the threat of illegal gun violence, and help make our homes and streets safer.”
While characterizing California’s law as draconian, Brnovich argued that because such firearms are commonly used, the ban “strikes at the core of the Second Amendment.”
The court filing noted that California’s appeal doesn’t dispute that thousands of its residents possess the rifles for home defense or sporting.
“Modern rifles have in fact repeatedly been used for that purpose, including stopping mass shootings,” the court filing reads.
The attorneys general also sought to dispute a claim in California’s appeal that the rifles are used for illegal activities and that residents can use other means for self-defense, noting that argument was rejected in a previous court ruling.
California first handed down restrictions on “assault weapons” in 1989. California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, has said those restrictions are necessary because such weapons are more dangerous than other firearms. Bonta and other officials also objected to U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez’s description of the AR-15 as being like “a Swiss Army knife,” or a combination of a home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.
“Equating firearms that have been used in many of the deadliest mass shootings in this country with Swiss Army knives has no basis in law or fact,” Bonta said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, defended the state’s ban on the weapons and said it has “saved lives.”
But Brnovich argued that the ban is an infringement on Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“Our Second Amendment is constantly under attack from out-of-touch Californians and ignorant special interest groups,” the Republican attorney general said in a statement. “America must never abandon her law-abiding citizens and their fundamental right to defend themselves.”
Other states joining Arizona in the amicus petition were Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.