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Elementary shooting survivors react to the overturning of California’s assault weapons ban

James Case / CC BY 2.0

SACRAMENTO (KOVR) Survivors of the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton are speaking out after a federal judge struck down California’s assault weapons ban, calling it unconstitutional.

It surprises many this ban was put in place after the first mass shooting at a school in this country. That shooting was in 1989.

“There’s a part of us that does not let that go,” said Judy Weldon. She was a teacher at the school when a gunman shot and killed five students. He also hurt 32 others before turning the gun on himself.

It was her first teaching job in California. She and five other teachers saw and survived the shooting, helping students as young as six run from the bullets.

“We are the ones who have to teach these kids how to grieve and how to move on,” she said.

She and others call the decision by Judge Roger Benitez to reverse the ban on assault weapons a deadly choice.

“He’s opening the door to who knows what kind of violence, utterly devastating,” Weldon said.

Now, state leaders are appealing the ruling. The decision carries a 30-day stay, giving the state the opportunity to appeal — meaning the ban is still in effect, for now.

Governor Newsom ripped into the judge’s decision, vowing to fight it.

“It’s not politics, but emotional and personal to the families who lost their damn loved ones, shameful,” he said.

But one Cleveland survivor is supporting the judge’s move to overturn the ban.

Rob Young was a first-grader at Cleveland Elementary. He was shot in the foot and chest. He’s been in Law Enforcement for 17 years. He said:

“Judge Benitez knew exactly what he was doing when he prepared his 94-page document. He has taken a huge step in the right direction and upheld his oath of office, by defending our fundamental rights set forth in our constitution. This is his duty.

“For decades now, California legislators have called for a ban on so-called “assault weapons”, a term in which they have defined on their own, and have had to modify several times to fit their narrative. They have focused on tools used in evil deeds, rather than the root causes to begin with.

“They’ve managed to demonize platforms such as the AR-15 and many other commonly owned long guns. Yet, at the same time, they’ve also dumbed down several weapon related charges in recent years, that in turn has taken away law enforcement’s ability to hold criminals accountable for their actions.

“I believe we need to focus on actually enforcing laws against people who are a threat towards society, and stop infringing on the freedoms that our forefathers put in place for everyone else. There is still good reason for our second amendment. California needs a reset in this regard.”

The Attorney General’s Office will also look to extend the hold on the ruling throughout the appeals process.



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