Skip to Main Content

STATEMENT: Giffords Law Center Condemns Dangerous Court Ruling by San Diego District Judge Roger Benitez 

Washington, DC —  Giffords Law Center, part of the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, issued the following statement after U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez issued a ruling striking down the California assault weapons ban. Since 1989, assault weapons have been banned in California. The ruling is stayed for 30 days to allow California to file an appeal. 

Statement from Robyn Thomas, Giffords Law Center Executive Director:

“Today’s decision is alarming and wrongly decided. A judge with extremist views prioritized weapons of war over the lives of Californians. This is especially insulting coming on Gun Violence Awareness Day. Too many families across the nation have lost loved ones in shootings carried out with assault weapons. They can attest to the reality that these weapons are not like ‘swiss army knives’ nor are mass shootings only a ‘very small’ problem.

While we are confident the judge’s ruling will be overturned on appeal, the gun lobby continues to advance extreme positions on the Second Amendment in courts across the country, including the US Supreme Court. In the California lawsuit and many others, we’re keeping up the fight against the NRA’s reckless campaigns to strike down the laws that keep our families and communities safe.”
The California affiliate of the NRA has exploited a court rule in the Southern District of California to bring multiple Second Amendment cases before Judge Benitez. Previously, the judge issued an unprecedented decision striking down California’s ban on large-capacity magazines, leading to a weeklong period in April 2019 where Californians could legally purchase magazines of any size. In his opinion addressing the magazine law, Judge Benitez stated that he believed “the problem of mass shootings is very small.” Judge Benitez also previously ruled against a state law requiring background checks on ammunition purchases. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit contained the damage of the outlier opinion by staying the effect of the ammunition background check ruling, and the appeals court could do the same after the 30 day period elapses in the assault weapons case.