A US federal judge overturned California’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, saying it violated people's right to bear arms.
US District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego called the 32-year-old law a "failed experiment".
He ruled that the state’s definition of illegal military-style rifles unlawfully prevented law-abiding Californians of weapons commonly allowed in most other states and by the US Supreme Court.
“Under no level of heightened scrutiny can the law survive," Benitez said. In the 94-page ruling, the judge said modern weapons were used for legal reasons.
“Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defence weapon and homeland defence equipment. Good for both home and battle," the judge said in his ruling's introduction.
California's governor said the decision was a threat to public safety and the lives of Californians.
“We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives," Governor Gavin Newsom said.
California first restricted assault weapons in 1989, with multiple updates to the law since then.
Assault weapons as defined by the law are more dangerous than other firearms and are disproportionately used in crimes, mass shootings and against law enforcement, with more resulting casualties, the state attorney general’s office argued, and barring them “furthers the state’s important public safety interests.”