SACRAMENTO — California’s governor denounced in starkly personal terms a federal judge’s upending of the state’s restrictions on assault weapons as officials announced the filing Thursday of a formal notice that they will appeal the decision.
They described last week’s ruling by US District Judge Roger Benitez as an outlier that conflicts with at least six other federal decisions upholding assault weapons laws in California and elsewhere, a ruling that is designed to get the issue before a recently more conservative US Supreme Court.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, the son of a judge, denounced Benitez as “a stone cold ideologue. He is a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby of the National Rifle Association.”
The state already is appealing the same judge’s 2017 ruling against the state’s nearly two-decade-old ban on the sales and purchases of magazines holding more than 10 bullets, and his ruling last year blocking a 2019 California law requiring background checks for anyone buying ammunition.
“We need to call this federal judge out. He will continue to do damage, mark my word,” Newsom said. “This is a very focused agenda to work through this judge, where the decision’s already made before it’s even presented, who writes ‘press releases’ on behalf of the gun lobby.”
Gun owners’ rights groups have made no secret of their effort to get firearms restrictions before the nation’s high court.
But the Firearms Policy Coalition, which led plaintiffs who won at the trial level, condemned the governor’s “outrageous and callous personal attacks” on the judge.
“Newsom’s verbal assaults on a long-respected member of the judiciary shows his deep and continuing disrespect for the rule of law, the judiciary, the Constitution, and the human rights of California citizens,” the group said.