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Federal judge strikes down California ban on club-like weapons, state appeals

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(The Center Square) – California is appealing a federal court ruling that struck down its ban on possessing club-like weapons most commonly used for defense. The district court ruling reverses the same judge’s previous ruling upholding the state’s ban, and is now being appealed to the 9th Circuit federal appeals court.

Under this ruling, California’s law banning simple possession or carrying of a billy or “any leaded cane, or any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a billy, blackjack, sandbag, sandclub, sap, or slungshot is overturned.

The judge, District Judge Roger Benitez, had previously ruled that because the 104-year-old ban was “longstanding” that “it is a permissible restriction on a dangerous, but less-than-lethal, unusual weapon.” However, in the aftermath of New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a United States Supreme Court ruling that requires gun control laws to be proven to be part of a “historical tradition of firearm regulation,” many weapons-related cases are being appealed under the new precedent.

Using Bruen, the plaintiffs appealed Benitez’ earlier ruling, leading the 9th Circuit to send the case back to Benitez for Bruen-informed consideration, leading to ruling overturning the ban.

“A billy is a less-lethal weapon that may be used for self-defense. It is a simple weapon that most anybody between the ages of eight and eighty can fashion from a wooden stick, or a clothes pole, or a dowel rod,” wrote Benitez. “One can easily imagine countless citizens carrying these weapons on daily walks and hikes to defend themselves against attacks by humans or animals. To give full life to the core right of self-defense, every law-abiding responsible individual citizen has a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms like the billy for lawful purposes.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, however, disagrees with the ruling and calls it a risk to public safety.

“The decision to overturn an over 100-year-old law not only defies logic but contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen,” said Bonta in a statement. “We have filed an appeal, as this decision puts public safety at risk.”

Benitez’ ruling is a summary judgment that grants a permanent injunction on the state’s anti-billy laws. The 9th Circuit, where the case is being appealed to, has the power to issue a stay on Benitez’ injunction. To successfully secure a stay, Bonta must prove California has a strong likelihood of success in his appeal, irreparable harm in the absence of the stay, and that the stay would not harm the public interest.

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