On Friday, George W. Bush nominee U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez ruled that California’s long-standing ban on assault weapons violates the Second Amendment. Over the past 32 years, the people of California have affirmed the ban through both legislation and a ballot initiative. Benitez, on the other hand, dismissed the state’s interest in prohibiting these extraordinarily dangerous weapons, calling the ban a “failed experiment.” His decision began with a now-famous analogy comparing AR-15s to Swiss Army knives, lauding the semi-automatic rifle as a “perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”
This dubious comparison, however, is only the tip of the iceberg: Benitez’s 94-page decision is riddled with bizarre and unsubstantiated claims, even more than his previous decision prohibiting the type of high-capacity magazine used in the Thousand Oaks shooting. The following are five of the opinion’s most alarming and unbelievable assertions, ranging from COVID misinformation to the outlandish notion that AR-15s are required to stop rape.
Benitez spent a lot of ink arguing that mass shootings with assault weapons are “infinitesimally rare.” (At the same time, he claimed that California’s assault-weapons ban had done nothing to reduce mass shootings, a contradiction he never attempts to reconcile.) The judge arrived at his conclusion by dismissing experts’ methods for calculating mass shootings. The AR-15-style rifle, the quintessential assault weapon, was used in many of the country’s deadliest mass shootings, including those in Boulder, Las Vegas, Aurora, Sutherland Springs, Pittsburgh, and Sandy Hook; a nearly identical rifle was also used in the Pulse massacre. Notably, the weapon was also used in the 2015 San Bernardino, California, attack, which killed 14 people. Despite this track record of carnage, Benitez wrote that “mass shooting events are rare events, contrary to public misinformation.” “More people have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than from mass shootings in California,” Benitez added.
As the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported on Monday, this claim is false. There have In the entire country, there have been at most three deaths that may be linked to the COVID vaccine. That is only one-third of the number of people killed in last month’s San Jose massacre. According to Blake, Benitez most likely got this myth from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who manipulated data to falsely suggest a link between COVID vaccines and death. Carlson’s lies have now infiltrated a major Second Amendment decision.
The bullet from an AR-15 travels through the body at the speed of a cigarette boat through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic, moving away from it like waves of water displaced by a boat, then returning and settling back. This is known as cavitation, and it causes damage or death to the displaced tissue. The high-velocity bullet leaves a swath of tissue damage several inches away from its path. It does not have to actually strike an artery to cause damage and catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be as large as an orange.
Reading Benitez’s viewpoint, one might conclude that California has effectively banned all firearms. In reality, the state allows adults to buy a wide variety of firearms, including semi-automatic handguns. But, according to Benitez, these alternatives pale in comparison to assault weapons, which he claims provide unparalleled protection against crime. He arrived at this conclusion by dismissing actual evidence on the record and inventing his own facts, seemingly out of thin air. Benitez, for example, rejected a study that found that most people only require 2.2 shots when using a gun in self-defense. He labeled this discovery a “myth” because it was based in part on news reports of shootings and included incidents in which no shots were fired.
Benitez then conducted his own study, which was entirely mental. “By simply brandishing such a weapon, an intruder may flee precisely because it appears dangerous and fully loaded,” he declared. “It’s difficult to imagine a 2-shot derringer having the same psychological effect on a home invader (or two invaders). It is reasonable to conclude that the visual threat posed by a homeowner holding a modern rifle with a large magazine serves as an effective deterrent even when no shot is fired.” The judge did not explain why his “reasonable inference” is scientifically valid.