August 14, 2020
As of Friday, California’s on-again, off-again magazine capacity law is officially off again, thanks to a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The rollercoaster ride that has seen the law banning so-called “high-capacity” magazines in the state jump from courtroom to courtroom has now been deemed to be unconstitutional. In Friday’s ruling, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court affirmed in the case Duncan v. Becerra that the restriction violated the Second Amendment.
“The record shows that such magazines are overwhelmingly owned and used for lawful purposes,” the court wrote. “This is the antithesis of unusual. That LCMs (large-capacity magazines) are commonly used today for lawful purposes ends the inquiry…”
9th Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lee went further in explaining the court’s reasoning.
“California’s near-categorical ban of LCMs strikes at the core of the Second Amendment—the right to armed self-defense,” Lee wrote. “Armed self-defense is a fundamental right rooted in tradition and the text of the Second Amendment. Indeed, from pre-colonial times to today’s post-modern era, the right to defend hearth and home has remained paramount. California’s law imposes a substantial burden on this right to self-defense.”
Friday’s decision upholds a 2017 ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, who blocked a new law that would have barred gun owners from possessing magazines holding more than 10 bullets.
Chuck Michel, attorney for the California Rifle & Pistol Association, said the ruling is a “huge victory” for gun owners “and the right to choose to own a firearm to defend your family.”
“This is a huge win specifically for the right to possess these valuable self-defense tools,” Michel said on the organization’s website. “But more generally, this case may present the Supreme Court with an opportunity to set things straight on the underlying issue of what the standard of review test should be when considering any Second Amendment challenge.”
Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, also hailed the big court win for California’s law-abiding gun owners.
“This is a tremendous victory for all who value the rule of law and preservation of individual liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution,” Keane said. “The firearm industry trade association was confident that possession of these accessories is protected by the Second Amendment and that California overreached to infringe upon the fundamental civil liberties of law-abiding citizens. This serves as notice to anti-gun politicians that their campaign to trample on constitutional rights and advance a radical agenda to deny citizens their Second Amendment rights will not go unchallenged.”
At the time of this writing, it was unclear whether attorneys representing the state will ask for the full 9th Circuit to reconsider the ruling. We’ll keep you posted as this story continues to develop.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.