Appeals court upholds California’s ban on high-capacity magazines

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Sacramento, Calif. – The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a decision by two of its judges and on Tuesday upheld California’s ban on high-capacity magazines in a split decision that could be headed for the US Supreme Court.

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“The statute does not prohibit any weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that can be used with firearms,” ​​the court said in a 7-4 decision.

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The majority argued that “the border interferes only minimally with the basic right of self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone has been unable to defend his home and family due to lack of a large-capacity magazine; And… the border saves lives.”

The 11-member panel of the San Francisco-based court took action after two of three judges on a Ninth Circuit panel last year ruled a state ban on magazines containing more than 10 bullets, which is a part of the U.S. Constitution’s protection of the right to firearms. violates.

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Gunmen’s rights groups plan to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court. They are trying to get firearms cases before a high court that leans more to the right because of appointments by former President Donald Trump.

9th Circuit Judge Patrick Bumatte, who was appointed by Trump, wrote a dissent, saying large-capacity magazines are “commonly” used by Americans for self-defense.

“Indeed, these magazines are legally owned by millions of people nationwide and are the standard on most popular firearms sold today,” he wrote. “If California law applies nationwide, it would require the confiscation of half the magazines of all existing firearms in this country.”

His dissenting opinion was joined by two other judges, while the fourth judge wrote a separate dissenting opinion.

The majority’s decision rested in part on which legal standard should be used to determine results, and the majority of the 9th Circuit chose a more stringent standard. It found that “intermediate inquiry applied because the ban imposed only a minimal burden on the original Second Amendment right to bear and bear arms.”

Gun rights groups expect the Supreme Court to choose a lower legal standard for Second Amendment cases in an upcoming ruling on a New York law prohibiting concealed carry weapons.

“We are disappointed but not surprised that this particular 11-judge panel had the numbers to overturn a lower court decision. But the battle is not over yet,” said Chuck Mitchell, president and general counsel of the California Rifle and Pistol Association. said. Seven judges on the 9th Circuit panel were appointed by Democratic presidents.

“The panel is split, and all the dissenting judges are suggesting that the Supreme Court needs to explain the matter to how the challenge to the Second Amendment should be reviewed,” he said.

Legal experts say the already pending New York case is a more likely candidate for any such decision. In addition, the High Court typically serves to resolve conflicting appellate court decisions that do not exist in the case, said Stanford Law School professor John Donohue, who was an expert witness for the state.

“Usually, in cases where the Supreme Court has taken action, you have taken people away with guns,” Donohue said. “Here … the only thing being taken away is the mechanism for firing more than 10 bullets without reloading.”

He and Berkeley law professor Frank Zimmering, who was not involved in the case, said anything is possible with a political court. But limiting magazine capacity is “far from the original meaning of personal self-defense,” Ziming said.

Gun control advocates and California Attorney General Rob Bonta applauded the decision, with Bonta calling it a “victory for public safety in California.”

He described California’s ban on large-capacity magazines as a common way to combat an “epidemic” of gun violence “including catastrophic mass shootings”.

Bonta noted that the majority of the court held that every mass shooting with 20 or more deaths in the past 50 years involved large-capacity magazines, as did nearly three-quarters of those with 10 or more deaths. The court noted that more than twice as many people were killed or injured in mass shootings with high-capacity magazines compared to those with low firepower.

Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president for legal at Brady Gun Control Advocacy Group, said the court’s majority rightly held that “the Constitution, properly understood, does not prevent Americans from enforcing the gun laws they want and their Families and communities need to be protected, and it doesn’t give people the right to weapons of war.”

Four years ago, San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez declared unconstitutional a state law that prohibited buying or selling large-capacity magazines since 2000. That law prohibited the new sale or importation, but let those who had previously owned the magazines keep them.

Benitez also barred the state from enacting a voter-approved law that would have banned gun owners from keeping magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. The practical effect was that those who already had weapons of such magazines would have to turn to them.

Gun groups estimated that more than a million high-capacity magazines could legally flood California during the one-week window before Benitez halted his pending appeal. The three-judge 9th Circuit Panel upheld Benitez’s decision and upheld the stay.

In addition to impacting high-capacity magazine laws in California and other states, Tuesday’s ruling helps clear a hurdle in the state’s other pending assault weapons bans.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading group demanding a firearms ban, said state officials this year had blocked an appeal of Benitez’s decision to end California’s assault weapons restrictions, while the 9th Circuit has blocked a high-capacity weapon. The ban on magazines was considered.

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