John M. Crisp: What judge gets right in ‘Swiss Army Knife’ ruling on AR-15 rifles

John M. Crisp: What judge gets right in 'Swiss Army Knife' ruling on AR-15 rifles

Tribune News Service President Joe Biden supports a ban on assault weapons like the one that has been in place in California since 1989. On June 4, however, the Hon. Roger Benitez, United States judge for the Southern District of California, ruled that California’s ban is unconstitutional. The judge is probably correct. Judge Benitez’s ruling is a peculiar piece of work for a document that aspires to serious legal analysis. The ruling’s tone and the judge’s personal high regard for assault weapons are obvious in its first sentence: “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” Later the document begins to sound like an infomercial: “On an AR-15 rifle, a telescoping stock is typically capable of adjusting to between three and six different lengths. This enables the rifle stock to be quickly and properly adjusted to fit the user, which is particularly beneficial to persons of smaller stature.” One size fits all. Even Mom and Junior can comfortably fire Dad’s AR-15. Elsewhere Benitez’s prose smacks of the oppression that pro-gun advocates claim to endure at the hands of anti-gun zealots: “Under this relaxed test a state could enter a person’s home without a warrant and seize him or his guns in violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition of searches and seizures without a warrant.” This is paranoia worthy of an NRA lobbyist. Benitez devotes a couple of pages to breathless descriptions of six cases in which […]

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