CA Gun Ruling Impact May Be Bigger than Expected Regardless of Appeal

CA Gun Ruling Impact May Be Bigger than Expected Regardless of Appeal
CA Gun Ruling Impact May Be Bigger than Expected Regardless of Appeal

U.S.A.-( Writing at Fox News, attorney Jonathan Turley—the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University—made a couple of critical observations in the wake of last Friday’s ruling by federal Judge Roger T. Benitez in Miller v. Bonta, which struck down California’s long standing ban on so-called “assault weapons” as unconstitutional.

The case will certainly be appealed, and the judge stayed his ruling for 30 days to allow California Attorney General Rob Bonta time to file. It is a case that could wind its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, and the gun prohibition lobby is already having fits. The next year could reinforce the importance of voting in presidential elections, for it is the person in the Oval Office who makes nominations for federal court vacancies.

Turley, a Fox News contributor, cited Benitez’ explanation “that the ban on weapons like the AR-15 are based on both a misunderstanding of the weapons and a misinterpretation of the Constitution.”

Later, Turley adds, “Reasonable people can disagree, including on the meaning of the Second Amendment. What is troubling is the level of misleading and frankly disingenuous discussion of the issue.”

Turley focuses on promises made by politicians that would collide head-on with the constitution. He singles out former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, the unsuccessful presidential candidate who vowed during a primary debate in Texas, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

“Such ‘hell yes’ moments are likely to continue with the approaching 2022 election,” Turley acknowledges, “but they may meet more judges who say ‘hell no’ in constitutional challenges.”

Judge Benitez falls into that category.

Judge Roger Benitez struck down California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” in a case that could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Public domain)

In his 94-page ruling, Judge Benitez—a George W. Bush appointee who assumed status as senior judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in 2017—effectively demolished California’s ban and much of the state’s gun control philosophy. He previously ruled the state’s ban on so-called “high capacity magazines” is also unconstitutional, and that ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The ruling faces en banc review by a full panel of the court, and Turley suggests the case could wind up before the Supreme Court.

Another important consideration is that the Miller ruling has opened up gun control for review by the media, and the San Jose Mercury News took a good first swipe Sunday by analyzing whether strict gun laws actually reduce violent crime, and ultimately it appears the jury is still out.

The Mercury News reported, “Giffords, the gun control advocacy group, grades states annually on the strength of their gun laws. It gave all but one state with the 10 highest firearm fatality rates an F. That state, New Mexico — which received a C+ gun law grade and had a firearm fatality rate of 19.9 — has universal background checks and a red-flag law.”

A few lines later, the story acknowledges two states with A- grades from Giffords for their tough gun laws—Illinois and Maryland—are among the top ten states with high homicide rates. Chicago and Baltimore are homicide hotspots where body counts exceed those reported by other full states.

Then the newspaper added, “Half the states with the 10 lowest homicide rates also had loose gun laws and F grades from Giffords, from Maine (0.8) to South Dakota (1.5), both F-rated. Only two of the states with the 10 lowest rates had high gun law ratings, Hawaii (0.9) and Massachusetts (1.4), both graded A-minus.”

Finally, the Mercury News story quotes Greg Woods, a justice studies professor at San Jose State University, who told the newspaper, “Time and again, incidents and statistics remind us that criminally motivated individuals are less likely to follow such laws” as have been passed in California and other states.

If Mercury News can do a fair analysis, so can other news agencies, especially as they dissect Judge Benitez’ ruling. On Page 60 of the judge’s decision, one finds what amounts to a scathing smack at California’s ban.

“Before AWCA (Assault Weapons Control Act), twice in a decade, an assault weapon was used in a mass shooting,” the ruling notes. “On average, since AWCA, twice a decade, an assault weapon was used in a mass shooting. The assault weapon ban has had no effect. California’s experiment is a failure. (Emphasis in original.)

“To summarize, the average rate of mass shootings with assault weapons in California has not changed in the thirty years since the assault weapon ban was enacted,” the judge notes.

A few pages later, Judge Benitez dismantles a popular argument by gun banners, that “assault weapons” are powerful.

“Some say that a bullet fired from an AR-15 in self-defense could penetrate a wall and strike a bystander,” the judge observes. “The Court is unaware of any evidence that such an event has ever been reported. One thing is clear, there is no evidence that home defenders using AR-15s hitting bystanders with stray bullets through walls is a common problem. That a stray bullet fired in self-defense might penetrate a wall is an argument in favor of using a more accurate self-defense firearm. And there is evidence that AR-15 type rifles are both accurate and easy to fire accurately. There is also mixed evidence about whether AR-15 type rounds are more or less likely than handgun rounds to penetrate the walls of a typical home.”

Perhaps an enterprising reporter will delve into this subject more. It is comments like this from Benitez that suggest he has done considerable research to form and support his ruling.

Judge Benitez also criticized the Ninth Circuit for past Second Amendment rulings, which he said “were wrongly decided by following a majority of circuit courts down the wrong path.”

Former President Donald Trump managed to do something in his single-term that others were unable to accomplish during eight-year stays in the White House. His federal court appointments—some 200 in all including three to the high court—may be his greatest legacy. By restoring some semblance of balance to the federal courts, the doors are open to more cases like Miller, perhaps to be heard by more judges like Benitez.


About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman


Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sadly it was necessary for Judge Benitez to avoid saying in writing what the real purpose of the 2nd amendment is. It is decidedly not for hunting, sport shooting, or even (primarily) self defense. The 2nd amendment was intended to ensure that the people could effectively employ violence to repel an invader or oust a tyrannical government. In other words, it is important that the people themselves be feared by those who hold the reins of government. Realizing that true purpose of the 2nd amendment makes it eminently clear that the 2nd not only allows “military type” rifles, but it… Read more »


the people came close to being required to have a gun at ready ,it was in one draft


Most men WERE part of the MILITIA. Militia rules of the era stressed that each member keep a rifle or musket, powder, flint and shot. At one time I think some local militias stated they needed enough for 60 shots. We had state militias until 1903. Some states still maintain them. WA state has a DISARMED unit. They used to have M16A1 rifles and M60 GPMGs, and the democrats took them away.


Did you read his decision? I admit I’ve only read about half, but… it is in there. He did not emphasis resisting tyranny but he did include it.


I think he was being very wise by not bringing what we hold to be the primary reason for being armed: to ward off tyranny by government. Had he so done, I can only imagine the howls of protest, attempts to impoeach,, charge with felony perjury for failing to uphold his oath of office…. as it is his ruling is very carefully measured but only slightly pulls tha tone knockout punch. I believe he fully understands taht this ruling will be a naldmark one, and wanted to make it stick, and be taken seroiusly. And what we see”out there” confirmes… Read more »


did you not read the whole decision. page 81 half way down right hand side. he mentions it twice.


Trump’s judge appointments certainly help bolster the fight to keep at least some Constitutional restrictions on government in place.

At the current rate of the Left’s attack on rights, the rule of law and the Supreme Law of the Land, it appears a revolution is more likely than anything else.


Another great article Dave. I will argue, however, the SCOTUS is, on a good day, only 5-4 conservative. Calling Roberts a conservative is like calling Stacey Abrams skinny.


Or a woman


Benitez’s ruling is great news. I am old, I hope I live long enough to see the case go through the courts and be found to be correct. We need every law like this shut down. We need to see every anti-gun politician ran out of office, never to be seen again. Let freedom ring.

Boris Badenov

From the cursory reading, about 1/4 of the way through, of the rulings of Judge Benitez. I’d LOVE to buy him the beverage of his choice. He carefully drives a nail through every one on the anti-2A points. This is what happens when you have someone who knows about Communism and it’s horrible effects and knows the law and is willing to study and give a thoughtful decision based on FACTS.


We can clearly see how entrenched the left are when it comes to controlling our court system. Every decision made by lower courts specifically decisions that go against them are never left
unchallenged. Laws, even unconstitutional ones remain in effect as a blatant reminder that the people have very little say against a bureaucracy that wants to disarm you.
Pushing these cases to the Supreme Court doesn’t guarantee they will see the light of day. The left knows and uses this effectively.


The reason states have the highest homicide rates, has nothing to do with gun laws. In case nobody noticed, it is the states with the highest inner city minority population numbers. Homicide numbers are now higher because police in those cities have been neutered, and no longer have the power to “police” minority populations. End result is a war zone that is beyond a “gun violence” problem – as slashings and stabbings and fists and feet are being used to assault innocent people in cities across the nation. There is an agenda that hopes that a commonality in perpetrators is… Read more »


You can’t have a BB gun. It shoots a projectile. You’ll have to defend your home and family with strong words.


It’s extremely frustrating to me that Americans constantly have to go to the courts to receive the rights already guaranteed them by the Constitution. Yet states and some cities are constantly passing laws that violate the Constitution requiring expensive litigation. Whether it’s anti gun legislation or liberal immigration laws such as Sanctuary cities or states, the law is the law. If you don’t like a Constitutional amendment or immigration law, then change it rather than trying to circumvent it. The current state of affairs in our divided country must change. THERE MUST BE CONSEQUENCES FOR STATES AND LOCAL JURISDICTIONS THAT… Read more »

Green Mtn. Boy

It isn’t about facts, truth or reality, it’s about the Marxist gun grabber agenda and ultimately CONTROL.
Let them piss moan and whine at the liberty the founders envisioned,poor little Leftards,they will just have to get over it as liberty reigns.