A three-judge panel from the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a June 29, 2017, ruling against California’s “high capacity” magazine ban, Breitbart reports.
On June 29, 2017, Breitbart News reported that U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez blocked the ban to prevent law-abiding citizens from being criminalized. ABC News quoted from Benitez’s ruling, “If this injunction does not issue, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property.”
“This is a significant win for law-abiding gun owners in California,” Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. “This unconstitutional law criminalizes mere possession of many standard capacity magazines and would instantly turn many law-abiding gun owners into criminals.”
“Last summer, we reported on the welcome news that a federal court had blocked California’s plan to require owners of “large capacity” magazines to surrender or otherwise rid themselves of their formerly-lawful property. As the judge in that case had put it: “On July 1, 2017, any previously law-abiding person in California who still possesses a firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds will begin their new life of crime.” That was a bridge too far, he decided, and blocked enforcement of the law’s dispossession requirement. California appealed that ruling, and now over a year later a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling. The case, Duncan v. Becerra, is supported by both the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are challenging a 2016 ban on so-called “large capacity magazines” (i.e., most ammunition feeding devices “with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds”). California’s law went beyond similar laws in other anti-gun states by prohibiting not only the manufacturing, sale, or importation of such magazines but also their possession, including by those who had lawfully obtained them before the ban’s effective date of July 1, 2017. The only way for such people to comply with the law’s new requirements would be to surrender their magazines to the police, move them out of the state, or sell the magazines to a licensed firearms dealer.
On June 29, 2017, Judge Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that the requirement for current owners to dispossess themselves of lawfully-acquired magazines likely violated the Second Amendment and the Constitution’s Taking Clause. “If this injunction does not issue, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property,” Judge Benitez wrote. “That is a choice they should not have to make.” He therefore ordered California not to enforce the dispossession requirements while the underlying case on the ban’s constitutionality was being resolved. Judge Benitez’s ruling did, however, allow for enforcement of the state’s ban on the manufacturing, sale, and importation of the magazines.” ~ NRA
The “high capacity” magazine ban was the result of a Proposition passed by the majority of California voters, but Benitez said, “[The] constitution is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.”
The state of California appealed Benitez ruling and on July 17, 2018, a panel from the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling.
The panel voted 2 to 1, and the NRA-ILA reports that the two judges who voted to uphold the ruling “chided the dissenting judge for substituting his own discretion for that of Judge Benitez, who had the primary responsibility to evaluate and weigh the evidence in the case.”
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.