Federal Judge Overturns California's Ban on 'High Capacity' Firearms Magazines

(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

A federal judge has struck down a California law banning so-called "high capacity" magazines for pistols and modern sporting rifles. The ban, the outcome of California's Proposition 63 passed in 2016, outlaws the possession of any magazine holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.


Federal District Judge Roger Benitez, a George W. Bush appointee and, according to California Governor Gavin Newsom, "an extremist, right-wing zealot with no regard to human life," used a 71-page decision to excoriate California's law and declare it null and void.

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

This is not the first time the Prop 63 magazine ban has had a close encounter of the worst kind with the same judge. He struck down the same law in 2020 only to have it reinstated by the Ninth Circuit.


Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia have bans of some sort in effect on magazines holding over ten rounds. While these laws are purportedly a response to mass shootings, the law overlooks the rather obvious fact that someone predisposed to committing a crime of violence isn't terribly likely to worry about being busted for possessing a 17-round magazine. As Judge Benitez points out, the real target of the law is the ordinary citizen who has to use his firearm for self-defense. Then, the magazine ban allows the government to prosecute them for having a "high capacity" magazine. It is simply the disarmament of a notionally free people by "little cat feet" rather than challenging the Second Amendment head-on.

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