California’s ban on high-capacity gun magazines violates Second Amendment, 9th Circuit rules
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The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned California’s ban on large-capacity gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court said the ban violates the Second Amendment. The author of the opinion was U.S. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lee, an appointee of President Donald Trump.
Lee said the California law substantially burdens the right to armed self-defense.
“The ban makes it criminal for Californians to own magazines that come standard in Glocks, Berettas and other handguns that are staples of self-defense,” Lee wrote. “Its scope is so sweeping that half of all magazines in America are now unlawful to own in California.”
The 2016 law required all California citizens to give up large-capacity magazines they may have legally owned for years, Lee said. The penalty for noncompliance is up to a year in jail.
Lee said citizens may need large-capacity magazines “to defend hearth and home.” Many people in California, he said, live “in sparsely populated rural counties, seemingly deserted desert towns and majestic mountain villages. In such places, the closest law enforcement may be far, far away—and it may take substantial time for the county sheriff to respond. And it is no guarantee that the things that go bump in the night come alone; indeed, burglars often ply their trade in groups recognizing strength in numbers. …
“Further, some people, especially in communities of color, do not trust law enforcement and are less likely—over 40% less likely, according to one study—to call 911 even during emergencies. … These citizens may rely more on self-defense than the ‘average’ person in a home invasion or some other emergency.”
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, sitting by designation on the 9th Circuit panel, dissented. Lynn said the majority opinion conflicts with 9th Circuit precedent and with decisions in every other circuit to address the Second Amendment question. Lynn is an appointee of President Bill Clinton.
Hannah Shearer, litigation director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement that the decision is the first by a federal appeals court to strike down a ban on high-capacity magazines, according to the Union-Tribune and the New York Times. According to Shearer’s group, nine states and the District of Columbia ban high-capacity magazines.
Shearer said the ruling is a sign that Trump appointees who are hostile to gun-violence prevention “are gaining potentially irreversible inroads on our appellate courts.”
The National Rifle Association said the decision is a “huge win for the NRA and gun owners nationwide.”
The case is Duncan v. Becerra.