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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 04/16/2019 in Firearm News

California Magazine Ban Deemed Unconstitutional

California Magazine Ban Deemed Unconstitutional

A federal judge in California has struck down the California magazine ban. This has gun rights activists cheering and the gun control crowd rolling their eyes.


Golden State voters passed Proposition 63 in 2016 by a 63 percent margin. In what is no surprise, the urban centers in California voted yes while rural counties voted overwhelmingly no. See a precinct breakdown at the Secretary of State's report beginning on page 74.

California actually banned magazines of more than 10 rounds in 2000. That law allowed an exemption for people who had such mags in hand. Prop 63 killed the grandfather clause and made any possession of a high-cap mag by civilians illegal. This California magazine ban is the next step to banning removable mags.

Virginia Duncan and California Rifle and Pistol Association sued the state over Prop 63. San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez said that part of the proposition is unconstitutional.


The judge based his decision in part on self-defense cases. He refers to several instances where homeowners were defending themselves and family and ran out of ammo. He also pointed to a case where another resident did not run out of ammo because of a high-cap magazine. Self-defense, he says, is solid right.

"Citizens often use a gun to defend against criminal attack. A Special Report by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics published in 2013, reported that between 2007 and 2011 'there were 235,700 victimization's where the victim used a firearm to threaten or attack an offender.' How many more instances are never reported to, or recorded by, authorities?" he wrote. "Fortunately, the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to keep and bear firearms."

While a solid win for self-defense and owning a gun, the judge waffled on magazines. A close look at the decision shows the ruling is not as big a win as many in the gun rights crowd believe. The judge did not say high capacity magazines should be 100 percent legal.

"According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s reasoning, acquiring, possessing, or storing a commonly-owned 15-round magazine at home for self-defense is protected at the core of the Second Amendment. Possessing a loaded 100-round rifle and magazine in a crowded public area may not be," he wrote. "Although it may be argued that a 100-round, or a 50-round, or possibly even a 30-round magazine may not pass the Heller hardware test, because they are 'unusual,' the State has proffered no credible evidence that would support such a finding."

He does say magazines holding more than 10 rounds are common. Exactly what this has to do with the California magazine ban is not clear in the ruling.

Read the whole decision here.


This is one decision by a federal court judge. Right now, only the California magazine ban is dead and the death may be temporary. A federal appeals court could overturn that decision. Proposition 63 can be resurrected.

Judge Benitez's ruling is headed for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. That appeals court is not much of a friend to gun rights.

Some say if the ruling sticks, this sets up a Constitutional showdown on the Supreme Court can resolve. Other courts have ruled magazine bans are legal while some courts have said the bans are illegal. Despite these contradictory rulings, the Supreme Court has refused to step into this fray. However, if the lower federal courts continue to be divided over the issue, history says the High Court will step in to try to settle the matter.

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