CA District Court Ruling May Clear the Way for New ‘High Capacity’ Magazine Sales

9 mm Pistol bullets and magazine on black background. Gun isolated

Yesterday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ensures that California owners of magazines with a capacity of over ten rounds can keep them. At least for now. By way of background, selling so-called high capacity magazines had been banned in the state since the beginning of the century, but existing owners of standard capacity magazines were grandfathered in.

In 2016, after the San Bernardino shooting by terrorists, Golden State voters banned possession of the magazines via Proposition 63. That meant owners of the older mags had to turn them in or destroy them. But the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the local arm of the NRA, filed suit. They were supported in the challenge by the California State Sheriff’s Association, the Western States Sheriff’s Association, the California Reserve Peace Officers Association and other LEO organizations.

Judge Benitez issued an injunction that blocked enforcement of the ban back in June of 2017, shortly before it was to go into effect. Benitez’s injunction was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, but a three-judge panel upheld the stay last July until the case could be decided.

In Friday’s decision, Benitez ruled that the state’s magazine ban violates the Second Amendment. The judge also stuck it to the gun banners by beginning his opinion with a quote from that famous advocate of the right to keep and bear arms, the late Senator Edward Kennedy:

Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts. “The judiciary is – and is often the only – protector of individual rights that are at the heart of our democracy.” — Senator Ted Kennedy, Senate Hearing on the Nomination of Robert Bork, 1987.

The question still to be determined is whether the decision affects only the terms of Proposition 63 (banning all possession of hi cap mags) or if it invalidates the 2000 ban on sales of the magazines. In any case, the state is sure to appeal Benitez’s decision to the Ninth Circuit, so this is far from over.

Here’s the AP’s report on the ruling.

By DON THOMPSON Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — High-capacity gun magazines will remain legal in California under a ruling Friday by a federal judge who cited home invasions where a woman used the extra bullets in her weapon to kill an attacker while in two other cases women without additional ammunition ran out of bullets.

“Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez wrote as he declared unconstitutional the law that would have banned possessing any magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

California law has prohibited buying or selling such magazines since 2000, but those who had them before then were allowed to keep them.

In 2016, the Legislature and voters approved a law removing that provision. The California arm of the National Rifle Association sued and Benitez sided with the group’s argument that banning the magazines infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Benitez had temporarily blocked the law from taking effect with a 2017 ruling.

Chuck Michel, an attorney for the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, said the judge’s latest ruling may go much farther by striking down the entire ban, allowing individuals to legally acquire high-capacity magazines for the first time in nearly two decades.

“We’re still digesting the opinion but it appears to us that he struck down both the latest ban on possessing by those who are grandfathered in, but also said that everyone has a right to acquire one,” Michel said.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement that his office is “committed to defending California’s common sense gun laws” and is reviewing the decision and evaluating its next steps.

The goal of the California law is to deter mass-shootings, with Becerra previously listing as an example the terrorist assault that killed 14 and injured 22 in San Bernardino.

Benitez, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, called such shootings “exceedingly rare” while emphasizing the everyday robberies, rapes and murders he said might be countered with firearms.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, named after a former congresswoman who survived a mass shooting, is also still evaluating whether the decision applies more broadly, said staff attorney Ari Freilich.

But Freilich predicted the “extreme outlier decision” will be overturned on appeal and criticized a judge “so deeply out of touch that he believes mass shootings are a ‘very small’ problem in this country.”

Becerra previously said similar Second Amendment challenges have been repeatedly rejected by other courts, with at least seven other states and 11 local governments already restricting the possession or sale of large-capacity magazines. The conflicting decisions may ultimately be sorted out by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Benitez ruled that magazines holding more than 10 rounds are “arms” under the U.S. Constitution, and that the California law “burdens the core of the Second Amendment by criminalizing the acquisition and possession of these magazines that are commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of self, home, and state.”

Benitez described three home invasions, two of which ended with the female victims running out of bullets.

In the third case, the pajama-clad woman with a high-capacity magazine took on three armed intruders, firing at them while simultaneously calling for help on her phone.

“She had no place to carry an extra magazine and no way to reload because her left hand held the phone with which she was still trying to call 911,” the judge wrote, saying she killed one attacker while two escaped.

The magazine ban was included in 2016 legislation that voters strengthened with their approval of Proposition 63, which was championed by then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In a statement, Newsom criticized the judge’s ruling.

“This District Court Judge’s failure to uphold a ban on high-capacity magazines is indefensible, dangerous for our communities and contradicts well-established case law,” the governor said. “I strongly disagree with the court’s assessment that ‘the problem of mass shootings is very small.’ Our commitment to public safety and defending common sense gun safety laws remains steadfast.”

comments

  1. avatar MICHAEL A CROGNALE says:

    Bercerra and Feilich are just two of the myriad traitors we have in this country. Ballot box or cartridge box. Either one or the other.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      Most ironic political quotation ever uttered.

    2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Ah the Fascist Taliban of the Left is short circuiting over this decision,let Freedom and Liberty reign and the Magazines flow freely,across this nation.

  2. avatar barnbwt says:

    “May?” It’s already begun…

  3. avatar possum says:

    1994 revised. Same game different Prez

    1. avatar DaveW says:

      Moonbeam is out, but his minions, such as NewScum (just like the old scum) still remain, and they, like Moonbeam, do not care about the public, the Constitution, or anything else.

  4. avatar GunnyGene says:

    Who gives a crap what Newsom likes or doesn’t like. Maybe he should read the last comment by Benitez. Warning, threat, or promise? Maybe all three. Reference the Declaration of Independence.

    “This decision is a freedom calculus decided long ago by Colonists who cherished individual freedom more than the subservient security of a British ruler. The freedom they fought for was not free of cost then, and it is not free now.”

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    *************************************************************************

    Pay attention, Governor. It’s for your own good.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

      My personal favorite,the Exit Clause of the Declaration,it should serve to strike fear into the hearts of petty tyrants across the nation.

  5. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

    “But Freilich predicted the “extreme outlier decision” will be overturned on appeal and criticized a judge “so deeply out of touch that he believes mass shootings are a ‘very small’ problem in this country.””

    This is what we are up against – Even if SCOTUS rules *big* in our favor with the upcoming ‘NY Pistol’ decision, the Leftists are gonna scream, cry, and clutch their pearls that the decision is ‘out of touch’, and the only way to rectify it is to elect Leftists to replace those judges with ‘reasonable’ ones.

    The Leftists won’t go peacefully into the night – They are gonna crank up the outrage to ’11’ and the media is gonna give them the megaphone to do it.

    At this point, I’m beginning to come to the opinion the only way to fight this is to use our billionaires to buy one or more of the mass-media networks, and ‘reform’ what it puts out…

    1. avatar GunnyGene says:

      “At this point, I’m beginning to come to the opinion the only way to fight this is to use our billionaires to buy one or more of the mass-media networks, and ‘reform’ what it puts out…”

      Too late for that. At this juncture, money doesn’t mean squat. This is about POWER; and power is never given, it is ALWAYS taken.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        Aye. Spot on, GunnyGene.

  6. avatar former water walker says:

    Godspeed California gun owner’s! May you have STANDARD capacity mags to fight gov’s,goons and the bueno bunch!

  7. avatar RGP says:

    Most government agencies have a waste basket where they dispose of court judgements they don’t wish to comply with, so the court’s ruling probably means nothing.

  8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Wait! I’m confused. The cop haters on this thread have assured me that L.E. despise armed citizens. Yet, I counted three L.E. associations and “others” in the article that supported the suit. As for trash cans that agencies throw rulings into they don’t agree with; the only agencies I’ve heard of ignoring anything lately were all those sheriffs in Colorado, Nevada, Washington, etc. ignoring firearms bans. But, it must be fake news.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      See the next post where a cop shot an unarmed man in a Swatting incident. See a previous post where Florida cops drew their firearms and threatened the lives of Florida Carry OC advocates peaceably assembling and carrying consistent with Florida laws. Maybe those episodes will end your confusion. Or maybe not.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Ralph, aware of everyone of them. A famous man once said, “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.” Maybe, you’re the guy that’s never made a mistake.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          I never killed anyone by mistake, and you probably haven’t either. But the Miami Beach cops didn’t make a mistake. They did what they did with malice aforethought.

      2. avatar George from Alaska says:

        A few hand cherry picked incidents we have all heard about. Why don’t you quote all the hundreds of video proven times when police had to shoot to defend their’s or others lives…. or the overwhelming number of times homeowners defended themselves and their children from your cousins attempts to hurt them.
        You are about as smart as a bag of hammers and the world would be better off with out your outdated commune, leftist, Antifa or just plain anti-authority brain consuming our oxygen… seriously, you serve no useful purpose and if and when the zombie apocalypse ever comes you will be kneecapped in order to give others more time and space to run…

    2. avatar DaveW says:

      Most of us, in fact, nationwide, an overwhelming majority of the rank and file disapprove of these actions by these anti-American politicians.

      A national poll, broken down into age, sex, rank, size of agency, size of community served, years on the job, etc., clearly displayed this. The ones who support these 2A violations are generally, those who owe their employment to non-police hiring boards and political appointments.

      What many fail to consider is that police officers are a) US citizens who b) take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and all of it’s parts, using c) firearms to that end, and that most d) live within the community they serve, and e) enjoy the same rights as all citizens under the Constitution. Police officers recognize that their lives are always at risk and that armed citizens coming to their aid is a good thing.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        DaveW, well said Sir! I walked around in my hometown with my wife a children among many of the felons I helped send to prison. Had citizens aid me in arrests more than once. Always thankful. L.E. are just like everyone else. Most good, some average, a few lazy and a very few truly bad. After retiring my testimony in federal court help send my former captain to federal prison. He deserved it. Get used to it Ralph, we all have feet of clay. Even you.

        1. avatar Binder says:

          “L.E. are just like everyone else”, no they are not. They have arrest powers, they have the trust of the public, they honesty need to be better than everyone else.

        2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Binder, yes they are. Look around your old classrooms. Some of them are L.E.O.s today. Grew up in your hometown. Went to the same churches. Ate in the same restaurants. Played with and against you in sports. Most are honorable officers. I’ll never forget what Mr. L. Ford said one day, “A law enforcement officer should be the most humble man on earth. He has all of the authority of anyone there. He shouldn’t abuse it.” Mr. Ford was a Korean War veteran and a strong proponent of the M-1 rifle. And a high school teacher of mine. Every day I walked out the door of my house and got in the car with the funny paint job and those stupid flashy lights on top, I remembered that. First, I politely asked you to do what I needed you to do. Second, I told you to do what I needed you to do. Last, I made you do what I needed you to do. Of course, sometimes I had to skip a step.

        3. avatar Clark Kent says:

          Binder: Thankfully, 95% of them are better than everyone else. ALL professions have their ‘five percenters’ who ruin it for the rest.

        4. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Ralph, if that’s all you fealty you felt for your oath; why did you even raise your hand?

        5. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Ralph, wait, sorry. I misread your last post. You have to admit you tend to be anti L.E.

        6. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Ralph, if you took the oath, as I did, there wasn’t a damn thing in it about a pension. I gave up six figures, and live very modesty, because I didn’t like the way L.E.O. was being treated in the media and on threads like this. I think you’re probably you are too old, or too scared to do it yourself, but if not, go out there and get us some war stories. If not keep hiding behind behind those masks.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        One other thing. Took the oath to defend the Constitution twice. Once in the military, again in law enforcement. Meant it both times. Still do.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          Good for you. I took the same oath, and I meant it. Most cops swear to preserve, protect and defend their pensions. And they mean it.

        2. avatar Accur81 says:

          As did I. Godspeed, sir.

    3. avatar OBOB says:

      “counted three L.E. associations and “others”….

      well they are safe behind a desk making SLOW decisions whereas the cops on the beat think and do otherwise in some places….just because ‘ the association’ does or says ‘this’ does not mean the rank and file care too

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        FB, maybe you’d rather they didn’t support the suit at all. After all, we’ve got more than enough help.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Besides, the rank and file are exactly who are behind us. I don’t know who should go outside and beat our forehead against a fence post. Me are you! I’m thinking you.

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Meant for OBOB. Sorry.

        2. avatar OBOB says:

          love ya too bitch

  9. avatar Guns Are Fun says:

    Various websites and some local stores are already selling them. Others won’t ship until they get the go ahead from their lawyers.

  10. avatar grumpster says:

    Good news for now and will be interesting to see how this pans out long term.

    I hope most firearm owners have been paying attention to Kalifornia and other states that tell you that you can keep the firearms and magazines you have and then a few years later they change their minds and say that you now have to turn them in. The new federal proposed AWB says the same that you can keep the magazines and “assault rifles” you have but you have to register them. Uh huh, that would make it very convenient for when they change their mind and say that you now have to turn them in and we know who of you have them.

    1. avatar franklyn dimino says:

      What about New Zealand. They are after registered weapons, RIGHT NOW!

  11. avatar Michael says:

    Don’t forget the pine box. -30-

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    Poor Gov. Gavin Gruesome. His little heart must be racing.

  13. avatar Doug says:

    Believe me most firearms owners will not run out of cartridges…ruling or no ruling. This state has a s#*! load of ex-felons with firearms and they can’t handle those criminals from packing.

  14. avatar Mark N. says:

    I don’t think that the decision applies to the 2000 ban, since that particular statute was not before the court. But it is indisputable that MOST OF the same analysis that overturned Prop 63 would apply to the prior law, the major difference is that prop 63 was passed by the voters and not by the Legislature. Courts will defer, up to a point, to legislative enactments, but grant no deference at all to voter initiatives.

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “Courts will defer, up to a point, to legislative enactments, but grant no deference at all to voter initiatives.”

      So, the recent Wash. and Oregon antigun state ballot initiatives should be an easy ‘lift’ to get declared unconstitutional?

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        According to the opinion, legislative enactments (at least theoretically if not truly in practice in states such as California) are the result of hearings and evidence taken, negotiation and compromise, etc., while initiative are simply a vote with no such considerations, only a vote of the mob. Hence the distinction.

  15. avatar Alan says:

    The entirety of California’s clearly anti constitutional rights firearms related legislative and administrative structure should be booted directly into the trash bin, such action being quite long overdue.

  16. avatar SoCalJack says:

    Folks on calguns are maintaing a list of sellers of std cap mags:
    https://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=1521211
    The buying frenzy begins. Folks in free states might want to order now before your favorite online seller runs out, assuming they update their websites and sell to CA.

  17. avatar Rubetastic says:

    Rainier Arms and Palmetto State are shipping all magazines to CA as we speak.

    1. avatar Clark Kent says:

      If I lived in California I would be buying a truckload of all types of magazines before the ruling is reversed by the Ninth Circuit (which is a given).

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      So is Primary Arms, and apparently a who’s who list of others. Not that it matters much to me. My pistols do not take more than 8 or 9 any way, and I am not all that interested in 30 round AR mags.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        I’ve got a couple of .45 handguns, but I truly enjoy 15, 17, 19, 20, 29, and 33 round handgun mags. The “obsolete” .40 and 9mm are great for firepower. Even my little Sig P365s have 12 + 1 capacity.

  18. avatar FB says:

    @Becerra the last time i checked, psychopaths dont care about your laws. They will drive to Nevada or Arizona buy hi cap mags and drive back to commit murder. Your stupid law only prevents law abiding citizens from purchasing and owning hi cap mags.

    “The goal of the California law is to deter mass-shootings, with Becerra previously listing as an example the terrorist assault that killed 14 and injured 22 in San Bernardino.”

  19. avatar TickTalk says:

    Blah blah blah. I’ll give a damn when the NRA takes on the continuing handgun ban in ca. The so called roster is down to what.. 600? That’s why we can only get a gen 3.. The newer, safer gens 4 and 5 don’t have the mythical firing pin serial stamp so they cant get added to the list..

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Three lawsuits were filed, one by NSSF. All were lost. One is pending a request for cert. Pena v. Cid.

  20. avatar Roy Johnson says:

    Good, but….I understand CA will appeal to the 9th Circuit Court. I think we all known what a clown show that court is. However, hopeful for now.

  21. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    If a miracle happens (which is unlikely) and the ruling stands because the Supreme Court sides with us MY QUESTION TO EVERYONE IS THIS: Would a Supreme Court decision affect other states that have banned high capacity magazines or do we live in a country where some states can take away 2a rights and other states allow them trumping a Supreme Court decision in all but California?

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Although technically limited to the language of the statute overturned, the Supreme curt’s decisions always have national impact, and its decisions are formulated with that in mind,, as seen in Heller.

  22. avatar Stateisevil says:

    It strikes the entire original law. New magazines are legal to buy or import until the 9th reverses.

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