Attorney General Bonta Files Motion to Stay District Court Decision Limiting California’s Authority to Outlaw Assault Weapons

Monday, October 23, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed a motion in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to extend a stay of a district court decision striking down California’s longstanding restrictions on assault weapons. The district court granted a ten-day stay of its order, which would expire on October 29, 2023.  The motion urges the Ninth Circuit to extend the stay pending appeal to ensure that these vital public safety protections remain in place to prevent gun-related deaths and injuries in California communities while the Ninth Circuit addresses the merits of the case.

“My promise to Californians is this: We will continue to do our part to help end the horrific epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our families, our communities, and our country apart,” said Attorney General Bonta. “For decades, California law has prohibited the sales of semi-automatic assault weapons in our neighborhoods. The district court issued a dangerous and misguided decision, and I will vigorously defend the state’s authority to protect our communities and work tirelessly to reverse the decision on appeal.”

The motion urges the Ninth Circuit to stay the 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 reflects 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.    

If the district court’s judgment were to take effect, it would create grave, immediate, and irreparable harm to California and its citizens. Without an extension of the stay of the district court’s order, long-prohibited assault weapons would flood into California, with no reasonable prospect for their recovery if the Attorney General prevails on appeal.

A copy of the motion can be found here. 

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