Gun owners scored a major victory on Friday afternoon when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against California’s ban on ‘Large Capacity Magazines’ (LCMs). For the court’s purposes, that was any magazine that holds greater than ten rounds.
Since much of the country often imitates California in their gun laws, this is a good thing for gun owners that don’t even live in California.
The ruling came in the case Duncan vs. Becerra, which was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court after a three-judge panel of the circuit upheld an injunction against the ban. That junction was issued by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, a man we’ve praised before for his clear-headed thinking on the Second Amendment.
Benitez is the same judge who attacked the CA law requiring background checks for ammo purchases. In his comments on that case, Benitez famously said, “Criminals, tyrants and terrorists don’t do background checks.”
The ruling on August 14th confirmed what Benitez had claimed: that there is no proof that banning LCM would do anything to prevent crime.
In their finding, the Ninth Circuit said:
The panel held that Cal. Penal Code § 32310 did not survive strict scrutiny review. First, the panel held that the state interests advanced here were compelling: preventing and mitigating gun violence. Second, the panel held that Section 32310 was not narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling state interests it purported to serve because the state’s chosen method – a statewide blanket ban on possession everywhere and for nearly everyone – was not the least restrictive means of achieving the compelling interests.
That is to say, the state of California can’t prove that banning the magazines does any good! No surprise to any gun owner, this point is sure to irritate the anti-gun political establishment in California.
In their ruling, the Ninth Circuit judges went on to say:
We also want to make clear that our decision today does not address issues not before us. We do not opine on bans on so-called “assault weapons,” nor do we speculate about the legitimacy of bans on magazines holding far larger quantities of ammunition. Instead, we only address California’s ban on LCMs as it appears before us. We understand the purpose in passing this law. But even the laudable goal of reducing gun violence must comply with the Constitution. California’s near-categorical ban of LCMs infringes on the fundamental right to self-defense. It criminalizes the possession of half of all magazines in America today.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra now has the option of the appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States. Considering he’s anti-gun to the bone, it’s not hard to see Becerra doing just that in the future.
Meanwhile, gun owners in California will likely start another rush of orders into their state. The last time this happened — when Benitez issued his injunction — it began a rush of buying that lasted only a week. In that time, sales of LCM into the state were estimated to be in the millions. The week the window to buy LCM was open was later dubbed “Freedom week.”
This latest ‘Freedom week’ may not materialize at all if AG Becerra appeals immediately, but we’ll have to see.