On Tuesday, a veterans police group filed a lawsuit challenging a recently approved San Francisco ordinance that places a confiscatory ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association, by way of attorneys at Michel & Associates, filed the lawsuit in federal court, arguing that magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds are commonly owned and therefore protected under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As the National Rifle Association, which is backing SFPOA in the suit, explained, “the U.S. Supreme Court recently made clear, firearms and accessories ‘typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes’ or those ‘in common use’ are protected by the Constitution and cannot be flatly banned.'”
To that point, the SFPOA will argue that 10-plus round magazines are used for a variety of legal purposes, such as target practice, shooting competitions, hunting and self-defense. Moreover, due to the fact that the high court has ruled that self-defense is the “central component” of the Second Amendment, SFPOA will make the case that banning these magazines impairs one’s ability to protect and defend one’s self, family and property.
“By allowing residents and visitors to San Francisco to only possess reduced-capacity magazines, San Francisco has arbitrarily limited the number of rounds that its law-abiding residents have to protect themselves and their loved ones,” the NRA explains in a press release:
Furthermore, it “endangers the public by giving violent criminals an advantage and decreasing the likelihood that a victim will survive a criminal attack.”
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the magazine ban on Oct. 29, which is set to take effect on Dec. 8 unless a federal judge approves the SFPOA’s request for an injunction.
Those who are in possession of the so-called “high-capacity magazines” or “high-capacity ammunition feeding devices” have 90 days or until March 8, 2014, to turn them over to police, sell them out-of-state or render them permanently inoperable. Failure to do so will result in misdemeanor charges.
“While not a panacea, this legislation provides law enforcement with more tools to continue to address gun violence and also continues to strengthen our city’s strong stance on gun regulation,” the bill’s sponsor, Supervisor Malia Cohen, told the San Francisco Chronicle last month.
In 2000, the state legislature placed a ban on the sale, transport, import or purchase of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, but gun owners who purchased 10-plus round magazines before the enactment of the state ban were grandfathered in.
For residents of San Francisco that no longer holds true unless you qualify for the exemption, i.e., you’re a law enforcement officer, an armored car driver, a museum curator or a Hollywood movie/television producer (these magazines can be “used as props”), according to the law.
Aside from putting a retroactive ban on 10-plus round magazines, the bill requires gun dealers to inform customers of local laws, establishes the presumption that an owner who has not reported a firearm lost or stolen remains in possession of the firearm, and prohibits minors from entering shooting ranges unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, the SF Chronicle reported.
Looking ahead, the constitutionality of magazine bans and limitations, not only in San Francisco but it other states and cities that have enacted them, will likely be an issue that the Supreme Court will have to ultimately decide.
Until there is a definitive ruling on this issue, one can expect both sides to continue the fight. That is to say, gun control advocates will continue to push for magazine bans and gun rights supporters will continue to argue that they are unconstitutional.