The overturning of a long-term ban on assault weapons including rifles has caused a backlash, especially after a judge compared the AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army Knife.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego, a Republican who was appointed by George Bush, ruled that the ban that had been in place since 1989 violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, despite the fact that AR-15 rifles have been used in mass shootings.
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling. “Firearms deemed as ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”
But the comparison of actual rifles to Swiss Army Knives - which often come with a nail file and tweezers - sparked incredulity from people on social media:
According to CNN, AR-15 style rifles have been used in numerous well-known mass shootings including in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Route 91 and at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
Swiss Army knifes, on the other hand, are not commonly whipped out to murder people.
Responding to the ruling, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom called it “a slap in the face” to victims of gun violence.
He said: “Comparing an AR-15 to a Swiss army knife is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
“This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won’t stand for it.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta added he will be appealing the ruling. In a statement to the press, he said: “Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it.
“There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with swiss army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities.