Santa Ana, CA – A judge in California upheld a ban on semiautomatic rifles and the “bullet buttons” that make it easier to reload the guns.
U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton of Santa Ana rejected a challenge by the California Rifle & Pistol Association to the California law prohibiting the sale, manufacturing, and ownership of semiautomatic rifles, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Staton called the weapons “incredibly effective killing machines” and said in her July 22 ruling that they were not necessary for self-defense.
In her ruling, the judge cited erroneous congressional findings that semiautomatic rifles fire at a rate of 300 to 500 rounds per minute making them “virtually indistinguishable” from machine guns, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Staton's ruling also noted that the rifles are the “weapons of choice” for gangs, hate groups, and “mentally deranged persons bent on mass murder."
Her decision contrasted dramatically with the 2017 and 2018 rulings by a federal court judge in San Diego who said that California’s ban on high-capacity magazines violated a law-abiding citizen’s right to self-defense, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Those court decisions were briefly in effect in the spring, but then U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez agreed to restore enforcement of the ban while the state appealed his decision.
But while it was legal, gun owners flocked to stores to buy the previously-banned magazines, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
California banned semiautomatic rifles 20 years ago and outlawed “bullet buttons” in 2016.
Bullet buttons attach to regular gun magazines and allow the magazine to be quickly ejected from the weapon, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The California Rifle & Pistol Association, which is an arm of the National Rifle Association (NRA), cited a 2011 dissenting opinion by newly-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in its lawsuit in which he interpreted the Second Amendment to allow semiautomatic weapons and prohibit mandatory gun registration.
Gun groups are hoping that the addition of Kavanaugh and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to the court will sway things their direction, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Staton said in her opinion that under current standards of federal law, the semiautomatic rifle should not be protect by the Second Amendment and should be considered a “dangerous and unusual weapon” only suitable for use by the military and not appropriate for home defense.