Federal judge overturns ammo magazine ban

by Kenneth Schrupp

(The Center Square) – Federal judge Roger Benitez overturned California’s ban on standard-sized ammunition magazines, with California Attorney General Rob Bonta filing an immediate notice of appeal. The injunction on the ban will be stayed for 10 days, which means that the ban’s overturn will likely not take effect as the decision is appealed.

Editor’s note: The federal district court decision does not apply jurisdictionally to a similar Vermont magazine law passed by the 2018 Legislature and upheld by the Vermont Supreme Court in 2021. However, if upheld by federal appeals courts, it could overturn state bans on high-capacity ammo magazines.

“Unless we enshrine a Right to Safety in the Constitution, we are at the mercy of ideologues like Judge Benitez,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a public statement responding to the decision. “This is exactly why I’ve called for a Constitutional amendment, and this is why I’ll keep fighting to defend our right to protect ourselves from gun violence.”

Standard-capacity magazines have been illegal to manufacture, import, keep or offer for sale, give, or lend since 2000, and illegal to purchase or receive in any way since 2013. Proposition 64, passed by California voters in 2016, made it illegal to possess even legally-acquired standard-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds under the rationale such a measure would limit mass shootings. Anyone who did not turn in their standard-capacity magazines by July 1, 2017 could have faced up t o a year in prison before an earlier inunction by Benitez. The most popular firearm sold in 2022, a Sig Sauer P320 pistol, comes with a 15 round magazine except where otherwise limited, such as in California.

“There is no American history or tradition of regulating firearms based on the number of rounds they can shoot, or of regulating the amount of ammunition that can be kept and carried,” wrote Benitez in his latest ruling.

Benitez first struck down Proposition 63’s rule in June 2017 right before enforcement began, noting only six mass shootings between 2006 and 2013 used the banned magazines, and that “entitlement to enjoy Second Amendment rights and just compensation is not eliminated simply because they possess ‘unpopular’ magazines holding more than 10 rounds.” In 2018, a 2-1 panel of the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed Benitez’ ruling on the confiscations.

In 2019, Benitez ruled against the ban on the acquisition of standard-capacity magazines, citing varying outcomes of women’s self-defense cases where having additional bullets made the difference between life and death. This decision was upheld in a 2020 panel of the Ninth Circuit Court, then overturned by an en banc decision of the same court in 2021. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit Court’s en banc decision in 2022 and remanded it back to Benitez for a new decision. Benitez’ latest ruling, if upheld in the appeals process, could allow for the resumption of legal sale of standard-capacity magazines in California.

Categories: Gunrights

9 replies »

  1. newsom apparently has no problem with fentanyl flowing across the border, illegal immigration, homeless people rushing to crowd California’s streets, his states losing of millions of taxpayers to other states, the closing of hundreds of thousands of stores who can’t take the ongoing retail theft,
    but oh if honest citizens are allowed to own a high capacity magazine he’ll make them criminals in the eyes of the law

    • Let’s be clear that what Newsome and other irrational gun-phobes regard as “high capacity” magazines are what honest people of common sense refer to as STANDARD CAPACITY.

  2. There are no other constitutional rights that are hampered by thousands of unconstitutional state laws passed against the 2nd amendment in the name of common-sense gun control. Just by crossing from one state into another we can be charged with a firearms possession crime, but you are legal in your home state. Generally, it’s a felony with a prison term and your life is ruined. How is that possible?

    As citizens, we have the right to protect ourselves and loved ones from harm or death. How can I be legal to carry a firearm for protection from crime in one state and then be charged as a criminal in another state if we have a constitutional right? The 2nd amendment right is number two in the Bill of individual rights of the first 10 amendments in the constitution.

    Vermont has unconstitutional laws that ban certain firearms because the standard magazines that come with certain firearms are more than 10 for a rifle and more than 15 for a handgun or pistol. The Vermont governor and legislature have banned certain firearms and their standard magazines which is likely very unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s Bruin vs NY decision.

    The Democratic party has continually tried to pass numerous firearms laws knowing that criminals do not obey laws. So, the end result is that good people obey the laws at their own detriment and criminals don’t. Is that common sense, to disarm the people who are not a problem to embolden criminals that are the problem by posting signs that say, Gun Free Zone? That tells the mass murderer wannabe that no one will be there to stop their rampage.

    But back to the magazine ban. There are millions of them in America owned by law abiding people. There are thousands of so-called high capacity/actually standard round capacity magazines in Vermont now and legally owned. If they were such a problem, why hasn’t all hell broken lose in the country and in little Vermont?

    We have constitutional rights; it is the law of our land. It can’t be legislated away and all those who violate it should not hold office. They take an oath to defend and not harm these sacred documents against foreign or domestic enemies. It is past time that the people demand that their legislators follow the constitution or suffer the pains and penalties of perjury under outlined in our Vermont constitution and the constitution on the United States. Anything else is just a lie.

  3. h/t to Kennedy

    Democrats are looking at the first amendment like it’s some malleable thing like you can push it around like silly putty.

    You understand why they trying to do that – they’re starting with the first amendment because they really want to go after the second amendment, but they can’t do that right away …. So they’re going after words and it’s really interesting, that when you control language you control society and that’s ultimately what they want to do.

    Because they’re constantly taking words and phrases out of university guidelines and petitioning dictionarys to get rid of certain words. They want to omit so much of the way we talk to each other and so many of our idiomatic expressions – that is a form of control.

    So what they’ve done is they’ve lost on ideas, so now what they’re doing is they’re coming after your freedom by passive aggressive force because you don’t really see it, because they feel like The Word Smith.

    They seem like the academics, but they’re actually a bunch of technocrat bullies who want to control your life from every angle.

    They’ll start with speech, and then they’ll end with guns.
    And I say they’ll end with guns, because they’re going to run into people that actually have guns, who don’t want them to take their speech or their weapons.

    • In the progressive assaults on Freedom of Expression, beware their terminology of defining speech they dont like as “misinformation” and their use of the term “microagression” where they equate speech they consider unkind to a physical attack…

  4. ““Unless we enshrine a Right to Safety in the Constitution, we are at the mercy of ideologues like Judge Benitez,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a public statement responding to the decision.””
    Important to note there is NO “right to enshrine safety” in our constitution nor should there be! Our founders intended us to have “ life, liberty” and the freedom to pursue “happiness” that is why Thomas Jefferson said “I prefer dangerous freedom to peaceful slavery” and so do I!

  5. This unconstitutional magazine ban is something we constitutionalists knew was unconstitutional from the get-go. The problem is that there are no sanctions imposed on these commiecrat appointed judges, state or federal. And there are no courses of actions, except voting against the politicians that write these bills and sign them into law. Phil the Eunuch Scott King of Castrati knew this was unconstitutional when he signed this into law. I find it ironic how the Commiecrats were always screaming that Roe v Wade was settled law for something not enumerated in the Constitution, but the 2010 Supreme Court decision McDonald v Chicago is not and totally ignored by the anti 2nd Amendment politicians. Until there in a mechanism, like impeachment to remove these judges that knowingly violate our constitutional rights we are at the mercy of the courts and our rights are bounced back and forth between courts like a political football. A federal law should be passed that politicians who are found to have written, voted for and passed unconstitutional laws be removed from office and be forbidden to ever hold elected office again.

    McDonald v Chicago 2010 is a landmark Supreme Court case that is important to understand. In its most basic form, the decision dismisses the proposition that a State (e.g., NY, IL, CT) or lower government (e.g., Chicago) can supersede or ignore the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment.

    “None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542 , nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 , refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 , does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes.”

    This ruling clarifies the principle that Americans can keep and bear arms that are equivalent to those in common use by the National Guard, which the court considers an example of a “well-regulated militia.” We have a RIGHT to the SAME arms and accessories issued to the National Guard that they use in defense of the United States.

    The National Guard’s rifle of issue (and rifle in common use) is the 5.56 x 45mm (.223) M16A2 a lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder or hip-fired weapon designed for either automatic fire (3-round bursts) or semiautomatic fire (single shot) through the use of a selector lever and has a magazine capacity of 30 rounds. Civilians can only own (except with the purchase of a special tax stamp from BATFE) the semiautomatic version called the M15 or AR15 not the M16 military rifle version.