Attorney General Bonta: California’s Ban on Assault Weapons Remains in Effect Until Further Notice

Saturday, October 28, 2023
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Secures administrative stay of dangerous district court decision in assault weapons ban challenge 

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued the following statement in response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ order granting an administrative stay of a district court decision invalidating the state’s assault weapons ban. As a result of the Ninth Circuit’s order, California’s ban on assault weapons remains in effect until further notice. The Ninth Circuit also expedited the appeal in this case and placed it on calendar for oral argument in December 2023.  

“Weapons of war do not belong on our streets. We were once again reminded of this fact as we witnessed a mass shooter gun down dozens of people in Maine, killing 18 victims,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We must protect our communities from these dangerous weapons. We know that these restrictions work to prevent mass casualty events and save lives. It is no accident that California’s gun death rate is 43% lower than the rest of the nation — it is because of our lifesaving gun safety laws, such as the assault weapons ban. Today’s decision means that it remains unlawful to purchase, transfer, or possess assault weapons in California as we continue to defend the law on appeal and seek reversal of the dangerous and misguided district court decision that, if upheld, would put our communities at grave risk.” 

The Ninth Circuit granted an administrative stay on the district court decision, after Attorney General Bonta argued that the district court’s application of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen is deeply flawed and ignores relevant historical laws. The Ninth Circuit decision stays a district court decision enjoining California’s decades-old assault weapons ban, the Assault Weapons Control Act. The Assault Weapons Control Act was initially passed in 1989 following two mass shootings, including one at a California school. The legislature strengthened those provisions in 2000. For the last three decades, California has restricted the manufacture, distribution, transportation, importation, sale, lending, and possession of firearms that qualify as “assault weapons” under California law. Those weapons have specific tactical enhancements or configurations that make the weapons more dangerous to the public and law enforcement and more susceptible to criminal misuse. Data reflect that assault weapons in general are used disproportionately in crime relative to their market presence, that they are used often to commit mass shootings, and that they inflict more numerous and more extensive injuries than other weapons. Assault weapons have been used in numerous horrific mass shootings throughout the country, including the mass shootings in Orlando in 2016, Sutherland Springs in 2017, Parkland in 2018, and Uvalde in 2022.

Attorney General Bonta stands with partners throughout the state to continue tackling the issue of gun violence strategically and aggressively by:

A copy of the decision can be found here.


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