California DA Gets "Assault Weapons" All Wrong

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

California’s assault weapon ban just fell to legal challenge. I don’t expect that to be the end of the discussion, but I do think it’s an important step. Eventually, I suspect this case will end up before the Supreme Court and we’ll get a final answer on the subject there.

In the meantime, though, Judge Roger Benitez’s ruling has ruffled a lot of feathers. That’s not surprising.

However, what is surprising is when a veteran district attorney utters complete and total nonsense about these kinds of firearms.

Veteran District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, who is wrapping up her 37-year career as a prosecutor, lashed out Monday at a federal judge’s decision to strike down California’s ban on assault weapons.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego ruled late Friday that the state’s definition of illegal military-style rifles unlawfully deprives law-abiding Californians of weapons commonly allowed in most other states and by the U.S. Supreme Court.

O’Malley, who has announced she would not be seeking reelection after being Alameda County’s District Attorney for 12 years and a member of the department for 27 years prior, has seen the havoc assault weapons can take and took to social media Monday to voice her objections to the judge’s ruling.

“I am so dismayed that a federal judge would overturn California’s ban on assault weapon,” she posted. “No one needs an assault weapon for personal safety and assault weapons are mostly used to commit crimes. With the incidents of mass shootings, we must protect our citizens from others who use assault weapons to inflict massive harm.”

Assault weapons are mostly used to commit crimes? That’s a fascinating claim. I don’t suppose O’Malley can produce anything backing that claim up.

After all, the AR-15 is the most popular model of firearm sold in the United States. Millions upon millions are sold every year. If they were mostly used for crimes, as O’Malley claims, then I’m amazed anyone is left alive in this country.

The AR-15, contrary to what O’Malley suggests, is a good firearm for defending yourself. We’ve seen numerous cases where people have done just that. “Assault weapons” also have legitimate sporting uses such as competition shooting and varment hunting.

Besides any of that, though, there’s a fact that O’Malley, as an attorney, should have been aware of. Namely that the Heller decision made it clear that firearms in common use cannot be banned. In other words, the most popular model of firearm in the country can’t be banned just because it makes people in California feel uncomfortable.

The law is what matters in a court, not what people think or feel.

Further, while she claims the state must protect citizens from harm, she apparently forgets that the courts have routinely stated that no such duty exists, that it’s up to private citizens to protect themselves. Yet here she is trying to defend taking away one of the best tools available for defending oneself by saying the state needs to do it. From a legal standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense.

Then again, it’s not like California actually cares about legality or the Constitution. After all, if they did, they wouldn’t continue trying to gut the Second Amendment in every legislative session.