California Judge Strikes Down Ban On Gun Magazines

California Judge Strikes Down Ban On Gun MagazinesPhoto: Fuzzy Gerdes/Flickr

US District Judge Roger Benitez issued a 180-page decision allowing magazines that feature high-capacity guns to continue in the state of California, citing liberty and self-defense measures as reasons to do so.

The news comes in a time when the world is still mourning after the violent massacre involving high-capacity guns in a Christchurch mosque in New Zealand.

California itself has gone through terrible mass shootings in recent years with the Orlando Nightclub Shooting and at a school in Parkland, Florida which claimed 17 lives.

In a country where it is struggling to implement stricter gun control due to vocal gun rights activists, a ban on high-capacity magazines that feature guns with more than ten rounds would have been a step closer to the goal of banning high-capacity guns in general.

The California law that prohibited the buying or selling of high-capacity magazines was implemented in 2000, only allowing people who purchased a magazine before the law to keep their copies.

However, a 2016 law that was passed by voters banned the possession of said magazines, which led gun activists to react because they refused on turning over magazines that they claim are used for self-defense and was grandfathered to them.

The law also included background checks for ammunition purchases, reporting requirements for lost firearms, and new legal procedures for confiscating guns that are prohibited.

In the same year, the Calfornia arm of the National Rifle Association demanded to remove the provision from the legislation, arguing that the provision infringes the Second Amendment of the right to bear arms.

The initial goal of the California law was to decrease the number of mass shootings listing as an example of the terrorist assault that killed 14 and injured 22 in San Bernardino.

However, the decision that came Friday was something that gun rights activists celebrated and considered as a victory; a loss for the hundreds of lives lost with unjust gun laws.

The Federal Judge’s decision not only outlawed the provision but the entire law itself, citing that people had the right to bear arms and the information resources that comes along with it.

In addition, Benitez called out mass shootings as rare incidents and cannot compensate for incidents like robberies, rapes, and murders where a firearm can be easily used to counteract.

“A few madmen with guns and ammunition turns millions of responsible, law-abiding people trying to protect themselves into criminals,” Benitez wrote in his decision on Duncan v. Becerra.

The ruling was largely based off the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.

All Californians, like all citizens of the United States, have a fundamental Constitutional right to keep and bear common and dangerous arms.
In Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court provided a simple Second Amendment test in crystal clear language. It is a test that anyone can understand. The right to keep and bear arms is a right enjoyed by law-abiding citizens to have arms that are not unusual “in common use” “for lawful purposes like self-defense.”
It is a hardware test. Is the firearm hardware commonly owned? Is the hardware commonly owned by law-abiding citizens? Is the hardware owned by those citizens for lawful purposes? If the answers are “yes,” the test is over. The hardware is protected.

Millions of ammunition magazines able to hold more than 10 rounds are in common use by law-abiding responsible citizens for lawful uses like self-defense. This is enough to decide that a magazine able to hold more than 10 rounds passes the Heller test and is protected by the Second Amendment. The simple test applies because a magazine is an essential mechanical part of a firearm. The size limit directly impairs one’s ability to defend one’s self.

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.

In the bigger picture, decisions regarding the particular matter are different across states, a hearing with the U.S. Supreme Court may be needed to make a final decision.

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