If you’ll remember, back in 2017, Judge Roger Benitez struck down California’s ban on standard capacity magazines the state had arbitrarily ruled to be “high capacity.” That ruling was, of course, overturned by an en banc Ninth Circuit ruling. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court where it sat until Bruen was decided.
After Bruen, the Supreme Court granted cert, vacated the ruling, and remanded it for reconsideration. Today, Judge Benitez has, as expected, struck down the ban as clearly unconstitutional.
As he wrote . . .
Removable firearm magazines of all sizes are necessary components of semiautomatic firearms. Therefore, magazines come within the text of the constitutional declaration that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Because millions of removable firearm magazines able to hold between 10 and 30 rounds are commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, including self-defense, and because they are reasonably related to service in the militia, the magazines are presumptively within the protection of the Second Amendment. 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. The best analogue that can be drawn from historical gun laws are the early militia equipment regulations that required all able-bodied citizens to equip themselves with a gun and a minimum amount of ammunition in excess of 10 rounds.
Oh, and this . . .
One government solution to a few mad men with guns is a law that makes into criminals responsible, law-abiding people wanting larger magazines simply to protect themselves. The history and tradition of the Second Amendment clearly supports state laws against the use or misuse of firearms with unlawful intent, but not the disarmament of the law-abiding citizen. That kind of a solution is an infringement on the Constitutional right of citizens to keep and bear arms. The adoption of the Second Amendment was a freedom calculus decided long ago by our first citizens who cherished individual freedom with its risks more than the subservient security of a British ruler or the smothering safety of domestic lawmakers. The freedom they fought for was worth fighting for then, and that freedom is entitled to be preserved still.
It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Benitez has issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the law, but stayed his order for 10 days to give Attorney General Rob Bonta time to cry in his beer, inform all of California’s relevant law enforcement authorities, and almost surely seek a stay of the order. Even in the Ninth Circuit, that’s less likely to happen now that Bruen is the law of the land.
As California Rifle & Pistol Association president Chuck Michel tells TTAG . . .
Today’s rulings represent continued affirmation that the Bruen decision, and Heller before that, represent a sea change in the way courts must look at these absurdly restrictive laws. Sure, the state will appeal, but the clock is ticking on laws that violate the Constitution
Judge Benitez used a thoughtful and in-depth approach to this ruling and we are pleased that he came to the conclusion, once again, that California’s magazine ban is not constitutional. CRPA was been fighting this magazine ban from day one and we are one step closer to a final victory for gun owners.
This is a very big win and will likely be the basis for many more to come, including the Golden State’s “assault weapons” ban.