To the editor: I would like to thank U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez for his evocative thinking on assault weapons. There have been a few times in my life when I have feared for my safety, and being elderly and all that, I would like to invoke my “core right of self-defense,” guaranteed by the Constitution, while I still can.
Unfortunately, my hands have gotten a bit shaky, and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so I don’t really think that an assault rifle — Californian’s ban on which Benitez found unconstitutional — would be the weapon of choice for me. What I need is a howitzer.
Please bear with me on this.
Yes, a howitzer is a weapon of war, as are AR-15s. Of course, howitzers do not have the ubiquity among Americans that is important to Benitez, but give them a little time to catch on.
I could have one in my backyard, and if I thought the bad guys were coming, I could just fire in their general direction without having to worry about my shaky hands.
Here’s the thing: If I were to I get one, I suspect that I might never have to use it. Once it got out that Granny had a howitzer, people around here — the neighbors especially — would be running out to get their very own, for deterrence. Before you know it, howitzers would be the next big thing.
I’d like to express my appreciation for Benitez’s words of wisdom. I feel so much safer already.
Helen Maurer, Mission Viejo
To the editor: Many objections to Benitez’s ruling are simply appeals to emotion that ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s very clear instructions on gun bans. They do not address how a court could even consider an assault weapons ban under the 2008 Heller decision and last year’s Bruen decision.
Under Bruen, the government must prove that there are similar bans from the founding era, which is essentially prior to 1800. Any laws after that cannot be used to ban guns, and if a ban is to stand, it may only cover a firearm that is both dangerous and unusual.
It’s impossible to prove that the ubiquitous AR-15 is unusual, and therefore it cannot be banned.
Futhermore, the Supreme Court has ruled that interest balancing tests may no longer be used. Appeals to emotion in previous 2nd Amendment cases worked in some jurisdictions previously, because interest balancing was allowed.
Even if Benitez desired to enforce a gun ban from the bench, his hands are tied as an inferior federal court, because of the Supreme Court’s clear instructions on the matter dictate that he must declare these bans unconstitutional.
Brandon Case, San Rafael, Calif.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.