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Court blocks reversal of California assault weapons ban

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A court has put on hold an overturning of California's assault weapons ban./AFP
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Jun 23, 2021 - 03:10 AM

LOS ANGELES — A US appeals court has put on hold a judge’s overturning of California’s decades-old assault weapons ban, which leaves intact for now the law as gun violence surges in America.

A ruling earlier this month by federal Judge Roger T. Benitez, who likened AR-15 assault rifles to Swiss army knives “good for both home and battle,” drew a rapid appeal from California.

Benitez had already agreed to a 30-day stay of his ruling, which was further extended Monday by a three-judge panel with the Ninth Circuit appeals court.

“The stay shall remain in effect until further order of this court,” the justices wrote, noting another case challenging the ban was pending.

Benitez’s June 4 decision described California’s ban as unconstitutional and defended the right of Americans to own semi-automatic rifles.

“Guns and ammunition in the hands of criminals, tyrants and terrorists are dangerous; guns in the hands of lawabiding responsible citizens are better,” he argued.

California, one of a handful of US states that bar assault weapons, passed its ban in response to a 1989 mass shooting at a school that involved an AK-47.

“This leaves our assault weapons laws in effect while appellate proceedings continue,” tweeted California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta, who appealed the overturning.

“We won’t stop defending these life-saving laws,” he added.

The court battle comes as gun violence surges across the United States — and after a disgruntled, heavily-armed California public transit worker shot and killed nine people in May.

Mass shootings have also taken place in Florida, Indiana, California, Colorado and Georgia, in a surge in violence that President Joe Biden has branded an “epidemic.”

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