City Council To Support Assault Weapon Ban With Amicus Brief For Appeal

Assault Weapons Ban Expires

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - In its first in-person meeting since March 2020, the Los Angeles City Council today directed City Attorney Mike Feuer to file an amicus brief in support of the California Attorney General's appeal of a San Diego federal judge's ruling that overturned California's three-decade-old ban on assault weapons.

Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last Thursday that an appeal was filed in response to U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez's order that found the ban unconstitutional.

The state will ask the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to extend the current 30-day stay of the ban, which Benitez issued along with his ruling on June 4. The stay sought by the state would leave the ban in place throughout the appeals process.

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who co-introduced the motion for the city to weigh in , called Benitez' ruling an “outrageous, reckless, groundless federal court decision.''

He said it was important for the city to make its voice heard through an amicus brief -- a legal document that offers additional information or expertise and is filed by someone separate from the case -- because the state's assault weapon ban, which was passed in 1989, was in response to the Los Angeles City Council's ban on assault weapons in the city.

“That's what inspired the state legislature to enact the Roberti-Roos (assault weapon) ban. People sitting at these desks stepped forward and led on this issue, the state legislature followed and Washington, D.C., followed us after that,'' Krekorian said.

“We know that when the national assault weapon ban was not renewed, we know that throughout this country mass murder increased,'' he said. “Death by assault weapons increased across the country.''

Councilman Paul Koretz, who co-introduced the motion with Krekorian, said: “Just this year, at least 232 mass shootings as of May 26, and just this past weekend, there were six more mass shootings across the country, killing eight people and wounding 48 in Cleveland, Savannah, Chicago, Austin, Dallas and Seattle.''

Speaking to his fellow council members before the vote, he added that one of the shooting victims was 18 months old.

“This country has such a problem with guns that Dr. Nina Ponce, the principal investigator of the California Health Interview Survey and the director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research -- among many others in the field -- have begun to look at gun violence as an epidemic,'' Koretz said.

The U.S.' gun violence deaths account for 82% of the firearm deaths in the two dozen highest-income countries, which includes Australia, France, Italy and Spain, he added. Ninety-one percent of the children killed by firearms in those 24 countries were in the U.S.

“Americans are no more homicidal than the French, or the Spanish, or the British. The difference is that they have effective gun laws in the books that protect their citizens and we don't,'' said Koretz.

Feuer has made gun violence prevention a priority of his office since becoming the city's top prosecutor in 2013. He also founded a coalition of 46 prosecutors, called Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, representing 24 states. The coalition urges prosecutors to advocate for legislation to create stronger background checks, prohibit ghost guns, increase accountability laws and more.

Following Benitez' ruling to overturn California's assault weapons ban, the Firearms Policy Coalition, which filed the lawsuit that was the basis of the ruling, pledged in a statement to “aggressively litigate this case on appeal and will take every action to defend the court's legally and historically correct decision up to and at the U.S. Supreme Court.''

In his 94-page ruling, Benitez wrote, “Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller and United States v. Miller.''

Koretz called the decision “wildly out of touch, as have been several other decisions by this judge that are being appealed.''

The ruling marked the third time in recent years that Benitez has blocked state laws related to firearms or ammunition. The judge previously ruled against California's laws that banned high-capacity magazines and required background checks for ammo purchases, finding in each instance that state gun laws have infringed upon the Second Amendment rights of Californians.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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