California’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines has been thrown out by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
California Rifle & Pistol Association attorney Chuck Michel called Friday’s decision “a huge victory” for gun owners “and [for] the right to choose to own a firearm to defend your family,” according to The Associated Press.
“Even well-intentioned laws must pass constitutional muster,” Judge Kenneth Lee wrote in the ruling.
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Lee wrote that the law was passed “in the wake of heart-wrenching and highly publicized mass shootings,” but that didn’t mean it could trample Second Amendment rights.
“California’s near-categorical ban of LCMs [large-capacity magazines] strikes at the core of the Second Amendment — the right to armed self-defense. 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,” he wrote.
Lee wrote that the law “imposes a substantial burden on this right to self-defense. The ban makes it criminal for Californians to own magazines that come standard in Glocks, Berettas, and other handguns that are staples of self-defense.”
He said the state’s ban on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets is “so sweeping that half of all magazines in America are now unlawful to own in California.”
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“When the government bans tens of millions of protected arms that are staples of self-defense and threatens to confiscate them from the homes of law-abiding citizens, that imposes a substantial burden on core Second Amendment rights,” the ruling said.
A summary of the rulings shows that the panel would not allow California to invalidate the Second Amendment.
“First, the panel held that firearm magazines are protected arms under the Second Amendment. Second, the panel held that LCMs are commonly owned and typically used for lawful purposes, and are not ‘unusual arms’ that would fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment. Third, the panel held that LCM prohibitions are not longstanding regulations and do not enjoy a presumption of lawfulness. Fourth, the panel held that there was no persuasive historical evidence in the record showing LCM possession fell outside the ambit of Second Amendment protection,” the ruling said.
The panel rejected the state’s contention that the Second Amendment could be abridged, stating that “no court would ever countenance similar restrictions for other fundamental rights.”
“But no court would hold that the First Amendment allows the government to ban ‘extreme’ artwork from Mapplethorpe just because the people can still enjoy Monet or Matisse. Nor would a court ever allow the government to outlaw so-called ‘dangerous’ music by, say, Dr. Dre, merely because the state has chosen not to outlaw Debussy,” the ruling said.
The ruling provoked reactions on Twitter.
🚨 ALERT: For the first time ever, an appellate court has struck down a ban on large-capacity magazines. 🚨
This decision by a Trump-appointed judge should put every gun safety advocate on high alert.https://t.co/PFwREd82TW
— Giffords (@GiffordsCourage) August 14, 2020
HUGE win in California today for gun owners.
The 9th Circuit has just ruled that a ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds is unconstitutional.
— RD (@real_defender) August 14, 2020
— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) August 14, 2020
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said he “remains committed to using every tool possible to defend California’s gun safety laws and keep our communities safe.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who supported the law during his time as lieutenant governor, still supported it even after the ruling.
“I think it was sound, I think it was right, and … the overwhelming majority of Californians agreed when they supported a ballot initiative that we put forth,” he said.
The decision upholds a 2017 ruling that blocked the law from taking effect. Both the initial ruling and the appeals court ruling found unconstitutional a California law that had prohibited buying or selling high-capacity magazines.
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