Federal Court Judge Rules California's High-Capacity Magazine Ban Unconstitutional


The state of California is now facing an uphill legal battle is its continuing efforts to combat gun violence after a US federal court judge in San Diego blocked the state's ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines. In his ruling, US District Court Judge Roger Benitez stated that the state's ban violated Californians Second Amendment rights and essentially allowed the state to seize property without properly compensating the owners.

The ban, which had been set to go into effect on Saturday, July 1, would have made it illegal within the state of California to possess any gun magazine that holds more than 10 bullets. The purchase or sale of these so-called high-capacity ammunition magazines has been in crime in California since 2000. However, anyone who owned one of these magazines prior to 2000 was still allowed to keep them under the old law. The new law would have taken things a step further by banning their possession outright, but for now, gun rights' activists are celebrating what they see as a victory.

Although California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, state legislators passed the high-capacity ammunition ban last year along with a raft of other new regulations designed to tighten up gun control even further. The elections last November also showed that a majority of Californians also agree with the move after they voted in favor of Proposition 63, which called for stricter penalties, including fines and jail time, to be imposed on anyone who violated the new high-capacity magazine ban.

While the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups have filed lawsuits against the state due to the new law, these are still pending. This led Judge Benitez to rule that the law be blocked to avoid suddenly creating criminals out of anyone who possessed a high-capacity magazine or forcing them to give the magazine up without compensation.

Although gun-rights activists feel the proposed law infringes on their Second Amendment rights, supporters of the law argue that there is no legitimate reason that an average civilian or hunter would need to possess a magazine with such a high capacity. Instead, they argue that these high-capacity magazines are often used in mass shootings and that by banning these magazines they can hopefully help to lessen the number of casualties from these tragic events. The theory is that banning these magazines would force mass shooters to change their magazines more often, which would in turn give law enforcement more time to respond and victims a better chance of fleeing.

Although California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has yet to comment on the recent federal court ruling, he has previously gone on record stating that numerous other courts have already rejected this Second Amendment argument as evidenced by the high-capacity magazine bans already in place in seven other states. For this reason, it seems that the state is likely to challenge the ruling and that the case will continue for some time.