California’s long history on assault weapons on the line in court battle

California’s long history on assault weapons on the line in court battle

Stockton Police Captain J.T. Marnoch holds up a Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifle in 1989 that authorities said was used by a gunman to kill five school children and injure 30 others in January of that year. SACRAMENTO — Born of a long history of gun violence, California’s pioneering assault weapons ban was enacted in 1989 after a herculean effort by lawmakers driven by outrage over a mass shooting at a Stockton elementary school. Legislators said they had to overcome a years-long grip on the Capitol by the National Rifle Assn. and shift strategies to pass the first-in-the-nation law. But now, after a federal judge’s ruling declared it unconstitutional, gun safety advocates fear California’s trailblazing work is in jeopardy, concerned that the decision could help unravel decades of hard-fought progress here and across the country. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez on June 4 issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of much of California’s ban on purchasing assault rifles. State Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta has appealed the Benitez ruling, saying the state’s “strong common sense gun laws help curb not only mass shootings but gun violence as a whole.” Last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals put Benitez’s ruling on hold pending decisions in gun cases that are now before the court. Benitez’s take on the law is not shared by most California voters, 56% of who don’t believe that the assault weapons law violates the U.S. Constitution, according to a poll released Thursday by […]

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