California’s two-decade-old ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds was tossed out by a federal court last week.
U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez handed down an 86-page order on March 29 siding with a group of California residents in conjunction with the National Rifle Association who argue the state’s prohibition against “high-capacity magazines” violates their Second Amendment rights. As such, he found the law unconstitutional and issued an order blocking the state from enforcing it.
“Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” began Benitez, a former California Superior Court judge and 2004 appointment to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. He then commenced to riddling state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office’s logic on the ban, which has been in effect since 2000 and moved to outlaw even previously grandfathered magazines in 2017. The root of the court’s ruling stressed the arbitrary nature of the ban.
“California law presently permits the lethality of a gun with a 10-round magazine. In other words, a gun with an 11-round magazine or a 15-round magazine is apparently too lethal to be possessed by a law-abiding citizen. A gun with a 10-round magazine is not,” he said, arguing that, following the same logic, the state could further move to drop the capacity, “until the time comes when government declares that only guns holding a single round are sufficiently lacking in lethality that they are both ‘safe’ to possess and powerful enough to provide a means of self-defense.”
Citing that “Millions of ammunition magazines able to hold more than 10 rounds are in common use by law-abiding responsible citizens for lawful uses like self-defense,” Benitez said and concluded that such a magazine passes “the Heller test and is protected by the Second Amendment.”
The NRA and its state affiliate called the ruling “a sweeping victory” but cautioned that it would likely see further legal challenges from California officials. “In the meantime, Friday’s order prohibits California from enforcing its magazine restrictions, leaving its law-abiding residents safer and freer, at least for the time being,” noted the gun rights group.
As a direct result, several national distributors of magazines, such as Palmetto State Armory, announced they are preparing to accept orders from residents in the state for devices formerly outlawed as “large capacity magazines” in The Golden State.
At least a dozen states and the District of Columbia have previously allied with Becerra to support California’s prohibition on such magazines, making the likelihood of a further challenge to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals almost guaranteed. Meanwhile, the polarity of the nation’s largest federal appellate court is morphing as older judges retire and new ones are appointed by President Trump.
The Washington Post reported that, should all of Trump’s current nominees to the bench be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, there will be a full dozen GOP-appointed judges in the Circuit, nearly half its makeup.