In a major victory for gun control advocates, a federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld California’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, overturning earlier rulings.
The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called California laws “consistent with the government’s important interest in reducing gun violence.”
The ruling upholds two California laws enacted in 2016, SB 1446 and voter-approved Proposition 63, which have been touted as a response to mass shootings. Both actions aimed to crack down on magazines containing more than 10 cartridges. The ballot proposal, which contains broader language, required gun owners to take their high-capacity magazines out of state, sell them to an authorized dealer, or turn them over to law enforcement.
In practice, few California gun owners have turned in their magazines, and some rural sheriffs have told the Sacramento Bee that they will not actively enforce the ban unless they find out gun owners are violating. other laws.
Then the courts stepped in, acting on cases brought by groups representing the state’s 6 million gun owners – and declared the California ban unconstitutional.
A federal judge in Southern California first ruled that California violated the Constitution’s Second Amendment and “take-over clause”. Last year, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit sided with the Southern California judge and overturned the California ban.
Now, the full 11-judge panel from the 9th Circuit has said California can enforce the ban on high-capacity magazines, saying the state is not violating anyone’s constitutional rights.
“The law does not prohibit any weapon, it only limits the size of the magazine that can be used with firearms,” Judge Susan Graber wrote.
She added that “there is no evidence that anyone has ever been unable to defend their home and family due to the lack of a high capacity magazine.”
Citing the litany of mass shootings carried out with firearms equipped with high capacity magazines, she said that “limitation saves lives”.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta called the decision a “victory for public safety in California” and added: “Laws like our ban on high capacity magazines are sensible ways to prevent this violence, including devastating mass shootings.
“Our laws keep Californians safe while allowing law-abiding gun owners to exercise their constitutional rights.”
And Jonathan Lowy, chief attorney for the Brady Center, chief firearms control attorney, said the court ruling shows that “the Constitution, properly understood, does not prevent Americans from passing gun laws. the guns they want and need to protect their families and communities. “
Named Republicans claim bias against Second Amendment
The decision was not unanimous.
The judges went back and forth through the main opinion and the dissenting opinions, sometimes suggesting that other members of the court were acting on personal motives rather than legal evidence.
Judge Lawrence VanDyke, appointed to the court by former President Donald Trump, wrote in his dissent that “the majority of this court is suspicious of gun owners and thinks the Second Amendment is a vestigial body of theirs. living constitution “.
“This case is the latest demonstration that the current Circuit test is too elastic to impose discipline on judges who fundamentally disagree with the need to keep and bear arms,” VanDyke wrote.
Judge Patrick J. Bumatay, joined by Justices Sandra S. Ikuta and Ryan D. Nelson, also dissented against the majority opinion. Bumatay and Nelson were appointed to court by Trump; Ikuta was appointed to the appeals court by former President George Bush.
The judges wrote that the majority control “functions like nothing more than a black box used by judges to enforce favored laws and repeal disadvantaged laws.”
Bumatay said the actions in California rob law-abiding citizens of their rights.
“While the court may recognize that California claims an interest in public safety, it cannot circumvent the law to acquiesce in a policy that violates the clear decision made by the American people when they ratified the Second Amendment.” , wrote Bumatay.
“The state bans magazines that may contain more than ten rounds – a firearm component with a long historical lineage commonly used by Americans for lawful purposes, such as self-defense,” he wrote. “Indeed, these magazines are legally owned by millions of people across the country and come standard on the most popular guns sold today. If California law applied nationally, it would require the confiscation of half of all existing gun magazines in that country.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, a Sacramento-based pro-gun group that filed legal briefs in the case, said it believed plaintiffs would appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said the Supreme Court must resist “the doctrines of subversion, obstruction and avoidance of Bizarro World employed by hostile and recalcitrant judges.”
“Individuals have a natural right to own and bear arms – a right enshrined in our Constitution and which predates government itself – and this right includes the right to purchase and own magazines of firearms containing more than 10 cartridges. “
This story was originally published November 30, 2021 11:01 a.m.