California

Appeals court restores Calif. ban on high-capacity magazines

In a win for Gov. Gavin Newsom, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Golden State’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, reversing a district court judge’s previous ruling that invalidated the ban.

In an 8-3 en banc ruling, a divided circuit upheld the constitutionality of two state laws that barred gun magazines that held more than 10 rounds, finding that the laws did not constitute a taking under the Fourth Amendment and was backed by the state’s attempts to ensure public safety.

“The ban on legal possession of large-capacity magazines reasonably supported California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings,” the majority wrote, adding that the laws do not constitute an illegal government taking because “the government acquires nothing by virtue of the limitation on the capacity of magazines.”

The three dissenting jurists on the panel, Lawrence VanDyke, Ryan Nelson and Patrick Bumatay, were each appointed by President Donald Trump.

In a dissenting opinion, the trio argued that California’s laws had wide-reaching, national implications finding that “these magazines are lawfully owned by millions of people nationwide” and that uniformly applying the Golden State laws would “require confiscating half of all existing firearm magazines in this country.”

Tuesday’s ruling springs from a U.S. District Court ruling by San Diego-based Judge Roger T. Benitez, a George W. Bush appointee, who overturned the state’s high-capacity magazine and assault weapons ban.

In the assault weapons ban case, Benitez argued that the ban on AR-15s had done nothing to mitigate the damage wrought by mass shootings and compared the popular rifle to a Swiss Army knife as “good for both home and battle.”

An appeal on his ruling invalidating the assault weapons ban was pending the outcome of this case. It is assumed to be restored by the appellate panel in light of Tuesday’s ruling.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.