Win for the 2nd? New California Magazine Ban Blocked

The state with arguably the strictest gun laws in the nation now has further gun restrictions up for debate.

Within days of the Supreme Court refusing to hear the case challenging California’s concealed carry law, a federal judge has enacted an injunction against the new ban on ownership of large-capacity ammunition magazines.

U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez included in the ruling, “...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.”

California’s strict gun laws came under national scrutiny after the December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, which resulted in the death of 14 people, and 22 others injured. The rifles used in the terrorist attack were purchased legally, but were illegally transferred. And one rifle was illegally modified by the shooters to hold a 30-round magazine. 

As a result, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, among other gun control advocates, called for more “common sense” measures to be passed. However, Newsom did admit that the restrictions being considered wouldn’t necessarily have prevented the shooting.

“To the extent it would address the issues of San Bernardino, perhaps not,” Newsom said. “But would it have impacted (other) mass shootings in California? That’s an open-ended question for consideration.”

Nevertheless, Californians voted yes on Proposition 63, which included restrictions like requiring background checks and authorization from the Department of Justice to purchase ammunition, as well as the ban on the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. According to California law, large-capacity magazines are defined as a feeding device capable of accommodating more than ten rounds of ammunition. 

In 2010, California voted to have the sale and transfer of these large-capacity magazines made illegal, but those who already owned them could be grandfathered in. Under section 32310(d) of the new law, however, which was set to go into effect July 1, 2017, that would have changed. Legal owners of large-capacity magazines would be required to, “...dispossess of the magazines by removing them the state, selling them to a licensed firearms dealer, or surrendering them to a law enforcement agency.”

If not complied with, owners would face substantial fines, as well as possible jail time. 

However, with this new injunction, it is still legal for the time being to possess large-capacity magazines. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a strong defender of the law, vows to “defend the will of California voters.” He insists the law will help reduce gun violence and prevent further mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino from taking place. 

In the meantime, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood says that owners of large-capacity magazines fearing legal ramification can still sell to another state. Others appear to be “holding on” to their magazines until further litigation takes place. According to Youngblood, no magazines have been surrendered to Kern County in the past three months.