Appeals court blocks ruling overturning California's assault weapons ban

A customer looks at a customized AR-15.
(Image credit: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday issued a stay of Judge Roger T. Benitez's decision to overturn California's ban on assault weapons.

On June 4, Benitez declared that the state's 30-year ban on assault weapons was unconstitutional and "has had no effect" on stopping mass shootings. He also compared the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to a Swiss Army knife, calling it "good for both home and battle." His decision was quickly condemned by state officials, victims of gun violence, and gun control advocates. Benitez, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, gave the state 30 days to appeal.

On Jun 10, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an appeal. After the 9th Circuit put the hold on Benitez's decision, Bonta tweeted, "This leaves our assault weapons laws in effect while appellate proceedings continue. We won't stop defending these life-saving laws." The case is expected to make it to the Supreme Court.

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The ban was passed in response to a 1989 mass shooting at a schoolyard in Stockton; a gunman used an AK-47 and large-capacity magazines to kill five children, the Los Angeles Times reports. The original law was signed by Gov. George Deukmejian, a conservative Republican.

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