Federal Judge Blocks California Law Banning Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines

photo collage of Judge Benitez considering High Capacity ammo mag ban and semi-auto handgun photo

by Richard Cameron


U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California out of San Diego, has issued a temporary ruling, staying enforcement of a provision of a recent ballot proposition (Prop 63) that outlaws ammunition clips  exceeding a 10 round capacity – commonly referred to as High Capacity magazines.

Petitioning the court was  the California Rifle and Pistol Association and San Diego county gun owners, represented by attorneys from the National Rifle Association (NRA).  The suit was filed in late April of this year. Judge Benitez, an appointee of George W. Bush, in his decision, wrote:

“If this injunction does not issue, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property. That is a choice they should not have to make.”

Although the court’s stay against the so called “Large Capacity magazine” ban is temporary, it is a hopeful sign that the courts and state officials are not joined at the hip concerning the rights (or lack thereof) of firearms owners.

One of the attorneys who appeared on behalf of CRPA and individual complainants, NRA attorney C.D. Michel, responded to the ruling:

“My clients are pleased the Court affirmed that the Second Amendment is not a second class right, and that law abiding gun owners have a right to choose to have these magazines to help them defend themselves and their families.”

In California, as is largely true across the nation, Sheriffs are dubious about the Constitutionality of gun laws that are so broad in focus that they sweep in law abiding gun owners.  Some have indicated either non-enforcement or a diminished enforcement posture to laws such as Prop 63.  Such is not the case as frequently with police chiefs.

The Los Angeles Times, interviewed Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, past president of the California State Sheriff’s Association, who, speaking in reference to owners of firearms in the state, told them:

“Until this is litigated, I think some will hold on [to the magazines].  Others who are concerned about ramifications might sell them in another state.”

Youngblood also indicated that his department was not making public compliance with the ban, a priority outside of normal law enforcement activities connected with arrests for other felonies and misdemeanors.  “If they show up in an investigation, they could be a tool for further investigation.”

A growing body of lawful owners of firearms are viewing legislation such as California’s through a different lens than in the past and are defiantly pushing back on state confiscation.  They view laws that infringe on the 2nd Amendment as functionally null.

In other words, they argue that citizens have natural law rights of owning and bearing implements of self-defense, personal and home protection.  In a classification of rights that are inalienable – government has no authority to restrict or abridge them.  And that is the posture that scores of gun owners are taking in California.

Had the injunction not been granted, anyone possessing a magazine made illegal by Prop 63, would have, beginning this Saturday faced a citation for an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed $100 per magazine, or could have been found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $100 and up to a year in jail.

California anti-2nd amendment elected officials such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, use statistically insignificant events such as the San Bernardino terror related shootings as leverage to argue that gun owning citizens are part of the risk of gun violence.  Newsom recently stated, “Large-capacity magazines serve only one purpose: efficient and effective mass murder.”

CPRA representatives regard assertions such as Newsom’s as absurd:

“Banning magazines over ten rounds is no more likely to reduce criminal abuse of guns than banning high horsepower engines is likely to reduce criminal abuse of automobiles.”

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One Thought to “Federal Judge Blocks California Law Banning Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines”

  1. San Diego Boomer Lady

    Gun free zones and states with the toughest gun control laws are the areas where most of the terrorist type shootings are happening in the U.S.

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