There’s no state in the country with more restrictive gun laws than California. Understanding what is and isn’t legal in the state requires a detailed understating of firearms and their accessories. Yet one judge has just struck a major blow for Second Amendment supporters by blocking a law preventing ownership of firearm magazines.
San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez issued his ruling Thursday. The state had sought to restrict ownership of what it calls “high capacity” magazines. The ban on buying and selling magazines has been in place for 17 years, but this measure sought to make owning them illegal.
The problem was that many in California owned magazines before the ban went into place. These had been lawful to own, even in California. The new law would mandate the permanent modification, forfeiture, or destruction of these magazines. Those who failed to do so could face fines of $100, and up to a year in prison.
“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property,” Benitez wrote.
“The State of California’s desire to criminalize simple possession of a firearm magazine able to hold more than 10 rounds is precisely the type of policy choice that the Constitution takes off the table,” his injunction read.
The injunction filed by Benitez will block the new law at least until he’s had time to consider a lawsuit filed by the California Rifle & Pistol Association.
Chuck Michel, attorney for the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, was pleased with the injunction. “This court recognized that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right and that law-abiding gun owners have the right to own these magazines to defend themselves and their families,” Michel told Fox.
Benitez said he was mindful of voters’ approval and government’s legitimate interest in protecting the public but added that the “Constitution is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.”
“Proposition 63 was overwhelmingly approved by voters to increase public safety and enhance security in a sensible and constitutional way,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote in a statement. “I will defend the will of California voters because we cannot continue to lose innocent lives due to gun violence.”
Benitez seemed to anticipate this response in his decision, where he wrote the “Constitution is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.”