A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that California’s ban on people owning gun magazines with more than 10 bullets violates the Second Amendment. The ruling was welcomed by advocates of the free carrying of guns for personal and family self-defense.
As is well known, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the right of the people to arm themselves in defense. But in California, a series of prohibitions and restrictions began to be applied 20 years ago.
In 2000, it became illegal to manufacture, import, or sell “large-capacity” magazines. The state Legislature went one step further in 2016 and made it illegal to possess magazines that had more than 10 rounds.
That same year, through the so-called Proposition 63, it was determined that violating the ban—that is, possessing these types of magazines—would be punishable by jail.
These bans were criticized and successfully appealed in court. In fact, the Aug. 14, 2020, decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2019 ruling of San Diego District Judge Roger Benitez, who blocked Proposition 63.
The expansion of the original 2000 law made about half of the guns available throughout California illegal, although such magazines are not unusual nationwide, Justice Kenneth Lee said in the recent ruling.
Lee joined Justice Connie Callahan in determining that the ban violates Californians’ right to self-defense.
The decision, which had the dissent of Justice Barbara Lynn, said the ban on shippers, which made both the shippers’ sales and the possession of those already legally purchased punishable by up to one year in jail, was incompatible with the Supreme Court’s precedent on the guarantees of gun rights in the U.S. Constitution.
“California’s near-categorical ban of [large-capacity magazines] strikes at the core of the Second Amendment—the right to armed self-defense,” Lee wrote.
“Armed self-defense is a fundamental right rooted in tradition and the text of the Second Amendment. Indeed, from pre-colonial times to today’s post-modern era, the right to defend hearth and home has remained paramount. California’s law imposes a substantial burden on this right to self-defense,” he added.
The ruling criticized the state’s definition of “large-capacity” to categorize these types of weapons, noting that the magazines that were to be banned and confiscated are standard on most popular firearms.
“Magazines enjoy Second Amendment protection for a simple reason: Without a magazine, many weapons would be useless, including “quintessential” self-defense weapons like the handgun,” he summarized.
The text argued that the state law was too broad and, if applied, would make law-abiding residents who simply own a common gun magazine criminal.
“The ban makes it criminal for Californians to own magazines that come standard in Glocks, Berettas, and other handguns that are staples of selfdefense,” the ruling said.
“Its scope is so sweeping that half of all magazines in America are now unlawful to own in California. Even law-abiding citizens, regardless of their training and track record, must alter or turn over to the state any LCMs that they may have legally owned for years—or face up to a year in jail,” he said.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, had defended the seizure scheme and made the decision to appeal to the Ninth Circuit after the Benitez decision.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Becerra now has the possibility of requesting an “en banc” hearing, that is, before an 11-member panel of the Ninth Circuit, although he has not yet said whether he will use this option.
Second Amendment advocates welcomed the court’s decision.
“This is a major victory for the Second Amendment, both in California and across the country,” said Chuck Michel, president and general counsel of the California Rifle and Gun Association.
“More generally, this case may present the Supreme Court with an opportunity to set things straight on the underlying issue of what the standard of review test should be when considering any Second Amendment challenge,” Michel said.
BREAKING NEWS: @NRA scores a HUGE win in California today. The 9th Circuit, led by a Trump-appointed judge, rules that ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
This case will have repercussions nationwide.
— NRA (@NRA) August 14, 2020
The National Rifle Association, which also supported the case, said President Donald Trump—whom the organization endorsed for re-election—deserved credit for the legal victory since Judge Lee was nominated by him for the Ninth Circuit.