In the United States, California stands out for its expansive gun laws that constantly evolve to be forward-thinking while attempting to not harshly infringe on Second Amendment rights. The increasing frequency of mass shootings and gun-related crimes resulted in previous California governor Jerry Brown signing new laws that gave the state some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
Gun Law Back in Effect
However, on March 29, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled that California’s law banning gun magazines with a capacity larger than 10 bullets was unconstitutional, violating the Second Amendment rights of gun-owning citizens; Benitez also felt that the law was instated as an overreaction to the gun-related crimes sweeping the country.
“Crime waves cannot be broken with warrantless searches and unreasonable seizures,” wrote Benitez in his ruling. “Neither can the government response to a few mad men with guns and ammunition be a law that turns millions of responsible, law-abiding people trying to protect themselves into criminals. Yet, this is the effect of California’s large-capacity magazine law.”
However, a week later, Benitez issued a stay on his own ruling. The stay came after a petition was filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office who has appealed Benitez’s decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Benitez also acknowledged that other California judges have upheld the bans. Currently, no one in California is legally permitted to manufacture, import, buy, or sell these high-capacity magazines.
Fate of Gun Magazine Law
After issuing the stay, Benitez said that anyone who bought magazines after his initial ruling can keep them and not be afraid of facing prosecution. National Rifle Association attorney Chuck Michel, stated that it’s likely hundreds of thousands of people bought the magazines after “20 years of pent up demand.”
Becerra said that even if the ban was reinstated, it would not be easy for California to remove any newly purchased magazines.
The original ruling that the high-capacity magazine ban was unconstitutional meant that sales of the magazines were allowed for the first time in almost 20 years. Since 2000, California law has prohibited the sale of larger magazines but still allowed those who previously purchased them to keep them. In 2016, a law and ballot proposition was passed prohibiting possession of the magazines even by legal owners.
The case will now head to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals while the ban remains. In 2017, Benitez issued a preliminary injunction halting the magazine ban law. That injunction was upheld by the Court of Appeals. This may set the tone for allowing large-capacity magazines to be allowed for sale again in California.
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