Gavin Newsom Says Overturning Assault Weapon Ban 'Disgusting Slap in the Face'

California Governor Gavin Newsom has strongly criticized a court ruling that struck down the state's ban on assault weapons on Friday. The ban had been in place since 1989.

The Democrat took to Twitter after a federal judge in San Diego, Roger T. Benitez, found the ban to be unconstitutional. In his ruling, Benitez compared AR-15 style weapons to a Swiss Army Knife.

"Overturning CA's assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence," Newsom said.

"This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won't stand for it," he said.

The case challenging California's assault weapons ban was launched in 2019 by James Miller and a political action committee (PAC) called the San Diego County Gun Owners, according to The New York Times.

Benitez is a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. He found the sections in the state's penal code defining assault weapons to be unconstitutional.

"Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment," Benitez wrote in his decision.

"Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR15 type rifle," he went on. "Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional."

The state attorney general's office had argued that California law defined assault weapons as being more dangerous than ordinary firearms, disproportionately used in crime and mass shootings, as well attacks on police and that they produced more casualties.

Overturning CA’s assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.

This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won’t stand for it. https://t.co/feL5BABTXa

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 5, 2021

The judge said the case concerned "what should be a muscular constitutional right and whether a state can force a gun policy choice that impinges on that right with a 30-year-old failed experiment."

"Government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where constitutional rights are concerned," he added.

When reached by Newsweek on Saturday, Newsom's office shared a statement issued following the ruling saying the governor had "deep respect for the judicial process" but comparing assault weapons to a Swiss Army Knife "completely undermines the credibility of this decision."

However, Benitez granted a 30-day stay of his order at the request of California Attorney General Rob Bonta. This period of time would allow the state to appeal the decision.

"Today's decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it," Bonta said in a Friday statement, according to NBC News. "There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with swiss army knives"

The judge's ruling was made on Gun Violence Awareness Day. Bonta had issued a statement earlier on Friday marking the day. He said: "In California, we have strong gun laws developed with the public's safety in mind."

Benitez was nominated to serve as a district court judge in 2003 by then President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate in 2004.

Update 6/5/21 10.22 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to note that Gavin Newsom's office provided Newsweek with a statement.

Gavin Newsom Speaks at a News Conference
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference after touring the vaccination clinic at City College of San Francisco on April 06, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Newsom has criticized a judge's ruling striking down the state's assault weapons ban. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images