A judge has ruled against the state of California’s decision to ban high-capacity gun magazines, any magazines capable of holding more than 10 bullets.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez said a person’s individual liberty and freedom to have a firearm under the Second Amendment of the Constitution are “not outmoded concepts” and declared the ban unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports.
The Associated Press adds: “High-capacity gun magazines will remain legal in California under a ruling Friday by a federal judge who cited home invasions where a woman used the extra bullets in her weapon to kill an attacker while in two other cases women without additional ammunition ran out of bullets.”
From the report:
California law has prohibited buying or selling such magazines since 2000, but those who had them before then were allowed to keep them.
In 2016, the Legislature and voters approved a law removing that provision. The California arm of the National Rifle Association sued and Benitez sided with the group’s argument that banning the magazines infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Benitez had temporarily blocked the law from taking effect with a 2017 ruling.
The judge’s interpretation of the law could pave the way for gun proponents to legally acquire the high-capacity magazines for the first time since 2000.
“We’re still digesting the opinion but it appears to us that he struck down both the latest ban on possessing by those who are grandfathered in, but also said that everyone has a right to acquire one,” said Chuck Michel, an attorney for the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association via the Associated Press.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office would determine their next steps to fight the order and as they are “committed to defending California’s common sense gun laws.”
The judge’s decision could have larger implications outside of California as other jurisdictions could cite the case as precedent for overturning their own high-capacity gun magazine bans. According to the report, this issue may be taken as high as the Supreme Court before it is finalized.
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Becerra previously said similar Second Amendment challenges have been repeatedly rejected by other courts, with at least seven other states and 11 local governments already restricting the possession or sale of large-capacity magazines. The conflicting decisions may ultimately be sorted out by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Benitez ruled that magazines holding more than 10 rounds are “arms” under the U.S. Constitution, and that the California law “burdens the core of the Second Amendment by criminalizing the acquisition and possession of these magazines that are commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of self, home, and state.”
Benitez described three home invasions, two of which ended with the female victims running out of bullets.
In the third case, the pajama-clad woman with a high-capacity magazine took on three armed intruders, firing at them while simultaneously calling for help on her phone.
“She had no place to carry an extra magazine and no way to reload because her left hand held the phone with which she was still trying to call 911,” the judge wrote, saying she killed one attacker while two escaped.
The magazine ban was included in 2016 legislation that voters strengthened with their approval of Proposition 63, which was championed by then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Governor Newsom criticized the overturning of the ban in a statement.
“This District Court Judge’s failure to uphold a ban on high-capacity magazines is indefensible, dangerous for our communities and contradicts well-established case law,” Newsom said, via the Associated Press. “I strongly disagree with the court’s assessment that ‘the problem of mass shootings is very small.’ Our commitment to public safety and defending common sense gun safety laws remains steadfast.”