© Reuters. AR-15 style rifles are displayed for sale at Firearms Unknown, a gun store in Oceanside, California, United States, April 12, 2021. REUTERS / Bing Guan
(Reuters) – California officials said Thursday the state has appealed a federal judge’s decision to overturn its three-decade-old ban on assault-type weapons, saying the law was needed to prevent the deaths by firearm.
The appeal challenges the ruling last week by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego that the law unlawfully violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms.
Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta told a press conference outside a San Francisco hospital that they were convinced the decision was wrong and would ultimately be overturned.
“We’re better than that,” said a visibly frustrated Newsom, who also sharply criticized the judge.
The state will ask the appeals court to stay the decision pending appeal; Benitez suspended his ordinance for 30 days, leaving the law in place for now.
California became the first state to ban assault weapons in 1989 following a school shooting that killed five children. Six other states and the District of Columbia have implemented a ban on assault weapons, according to gun safety group Giffords.
A federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, and Congress failed to re-authorize the law in the face of Republican opposition.
Guns are a politically sensitive issue in the United States, which has the highest rate of gun ownership of any country, as well as a higher incidence of gun violence than other wealthy countries.
Two weeks ago, a gunman opened fire on a San Jose rail yard, killing nine people, in a series of high-profile mass shootings in Indiana, Colorado and Georgia, among other states.
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