California Law Capping Magazine Capacity Struck Down By Federal Judge
A TPM Arms LLC California-legal featureless AR-15 style rifle is displayed for sale at the company's booth at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the Orange County Fairgrounds on June 5, 2021 in Costa Mesa, California. - Gun sales increased in the US following Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. On June 4, a San Diego federal court judge overturned California's three-decade old ban on assault weapons, defined as a semiautomatic rifle or pistol with a detachable magazine and certain features, but granted a 30-day stay for a State appeal and likely future court decisions on the constitutionality of the ban under the Second Amendment. An industry of California legal "featureless" or "compliant" AR-15 style rifles developed for California consumers, adapting to the law with design changes to the popular rifle. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)
Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images.

A California law banning possession and sale of gun magazines holding more than 10 rounds was blocked by a federal judge who said the law was unconstitutional in a decision released on Friday.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California Roger Benitez wrote in a 71-page ruling that law-abiding citizens had constitutional rights to own magazines of greater than 10 rounds, and that there was no historic legal precedent giving California the right to pass such a law.

“Removable firearm magazines of all sizes are necessary components of semiautomatic firearms. Therefore, magazines come within the text of the constitutional declaration that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” Benitez wrote. “Because millions of removable firearm magazines able to hold between 10 and 30 rounds are commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, including self-defense, and because they are reasonably related to service in the militia, the magazines are presumptively within the protection of the Second Amendment.”

The judge said that California did not justify “its sweeping ban and dispossession mandate,” which was first passed via ballot initiative back in 2016.

“One government solution to a few mad men with guns is a law that makes into criminals responsible, law-abiding people wanting larger magazines simply to protect themselves. The history and tradition of the Second Amendment clearly supports state laws against the use or misuse of firearms with unlawful intent, but not the disarmament of the law-abiding citizen,” he wrote.

“The adoption of the Second Amendment was a freedom calculus decided long ago by our first citizens who cherished individual freedom with its risks more than the subservient security of a British ruler or the smothering safety of domestic lawmakers. The freedom they fought for was worth fighting for then, and that freedom is entitled to be preserved still,” the judge added.


California Governor Gavin Newsom decried the ruling, referring to Benitez as a “right-wing zealot with no regard to human life.”

“Wake up, America. Our gun safety laws will continue to be thrown out by NRA-owned federal judges until we pass a Constitutional Amendment to protect our kids and end the gun violence epidemic in America,” Newsom posted to X.

Benitez’s order won’t take effect for 10 days as California Attorney General Rob Bonta moves to get a stay on the ruling.

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