Newsom: Judge Who Struck Down California ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban ‘Absolute Disgrace’

Gavin Newsom
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Late Thursday afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) posted to X that the judge who struck down California’s “assault weapons” ban is “an absolute disgrace.”

Newsom described the judge — U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez — as an “NRA puppet.”

Newsom focused on the portion of Benitez’s opinion in which the judge wrote on how many more people are killed with knives than with semiautomatic weapons, which California lawmakers label “assault weapons.”

Breitbart News reported that Benitez noted:

In California, while modern semiautomatics are not rare, they are rarely the problem. For example, in 2022, only three “assault weapons” were used in violent California crimes, according to the Attorney General’s annual report, “Firearms Used in the Commission of Crimes.” For the preceding year, the report announced that only two assault weapons were used in violent crimes, while the 2020 report identified zero “assault weapons” used. Other government homicide statistics do not track “assault rifles,” but they do show that killing by knife attack is far more common than homicide by any kind of rifle.

Newsom responded by writing, “Today … Judge Roger Benitez … tried to strip away CA’s three-decade-old assault weapon ban — comparing an assault rifle to a knife.”

Benitez’s observation about California knife-related deaths versus “assault weapon” deaths is born out in national figures as well. On October 21, 2022, Breitbart News pointed to FBI numbers showing over twice as many people in the U.S. were killed with knives and other cutting tools than were killed with rifles in 2021. The category of rifles in the FBI report includes rifles of all kinds — lever action, single shot, pump action, bolt action, semiautomatic, and the rifles that Democrats label “assault weapons.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010, a speaker at the 2023 Western Conservative Summit, and he holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at Reach him directly at


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