A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday threw out California’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, labeling it a violation of the Second Amendment.
The panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed (2-1) the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez in Duncan vs. Becerra that California’s ban on possessing firearm magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds violates the Second Amendment.
“Even well-intentioned laws must pass constitutional muster,” appellate Judge Kenneth Lee wrote for the panel’s majority. California’s ban “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.”
Finding that the challenged law must be evaluated under strict scrutiny, he continued, “California’s law imposes a substantial burden on this right to self-defense.”
Lee added that California passed the law “in the wake of heart-wrenching and highly publicized mass shootings,” but said that isn’t enough to justify a ban whose scope “is so sweeping that half of all magazines in America are now unlawful to own in California.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said it is reviewing the decision and he “remains committed to using every tool possible to defend California’s gun safety laws and keep our communities safe.”
NSSF had submitted an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ challenge to the state law.
“This is a tremendous victory for all who value the rule of law and preservation of individual liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President of General Counsel in a statement. “The firearm industry trade association was confident that possession of these accessories is protected by the Second Amendment and that California overreached to infringe upon the fundamental civil liberties of law-abiding citizens. This serves as notice to antigun politicians that their campaign to trample on constitutional rights and advance a radical agenda to deny citizens’ their Second Amendment rights will not go unchallenged.”
NSSF said that despite California’s Attorney General’s intention to review the decision to the full court, NSSF is confident the holding of the panel that the legal test applied to the decision is sound and will survive appeal.