Letters to the Editor: Judge Benitez's comparison of an AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife was on target

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FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2012 file photo, three variations of the AR-15 rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif. On Sept. 19, 2019, Connecticut-based Colt Firearms said it was suspending production of its version of the AR-15 for the civilian market. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Three variations of AR-15 rifles are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento in 2012. (Associated Press)

To the editor: Of course an AR-15 rifle isn't a Swiss Army knife; U.S. District Judge Robert Benitez did not say it was. His comparison was not meant to say the two are alike in function. It was a comparison of versatility. ("The ruling overturning California’s assault weapon ban was nutty. But it may be on solid legal ground," column, June 14)

Some are trying to discredit Benitez by attacking this particular line in his deeply thought-out ruling on California's assault weapons law. They are also getting a lot about the AR-15 rifle wrong.

Those who disagree with Benitez's ruling say the AR-15 has only one function. Not true. Here are a few of the varied uses: recreational target shooting, amateur and professional shooting competition, home protection and hunting.

It should be noted that while many people may have an AR-15, some even made by the same manufacturer, no two rifles would be alike due to the options available for this platform. Hence, Benitez's comparison to a Swiss Army knife.

Augustine Parra, Sylmar

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To the editor: Benitez claims that the AR-15 rifles "are commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for a lawful purpose." Seriously?

A recent report on "60 Minutes" showed the enormous damage an AR-15 round can do compared with a round from a regular pistol or rifle. The weapon can fire up to 60 rounds a minute, depending on the magazine.

For what "lawful purpose" does a law-abiding civilian need that kind of weapon? Deer hunting?

Steve Mehlman, Beaumont

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To the editor: How pitiful that Benitez deemed "'assault weapons' as fairly ordinary, popular modern rifles. The "guns are used in average ways for average purposes," he ruled.

Is killing innocent people with an assault rifle an average purpose? When mass shootings are on the rise, is allowing these weapons in the hands of killers acceptable?

Perhaps more pitiful or frightening is the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could effectively alter the 2nd Amendment, thus weakening gun laws such as here in California. More lenient gun laws mean more violent deaths.

Who, then, is responsible for more bloodshed?

Gerry Eldred, Rancho Mission Viejo

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.