Federal Court Upholds California Ban on Large-Capacity Magazines

California’s ban on the possession of large-capacity magazines (LCMs) for firearms was upheld Tuesday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court ruling that invalidated the ban.

The LCM ban was passed in 2016 and enjoined in 2017, awaiting the resolution of Duncan v. Bonta. Following the ruling made by Judge Roger Benitiz of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California that the ban violated Californians’ Second Amendment rights.

More than four years later, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, called the Ninth Circuit’s 7-4 reversal in Duncan v. Bonta a victory for public safety.

“Gun violence is an epidemic in this country, but laws like our ban on large-capacity magazines are common-sense ways to prevent this violence, including devastating mass shootings,” Bonta said.

According to a press release published by the California’s Office of the Attorney General Tuesday, LCMs are firearm magazines that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and pose a significant threat to public safety by allowing gunmen to easily shoot many rounds in a very short period of time without the need to reload.

“I’m thankful to the court for giving this case a second look, and confirming what we know to be true: our laws keep Californians safe while allowing law-abiding gun owners to exercise their constitutional rights,” Bonta said.

In California, it has been illegal to manufacture, import, keep or offer for sale, give, or lend LCMs since 2000. It has been illegal to purchase and receive them since 2013. Proposition 63, which California voters passed in 2016, added a ban on the possession of LCMs.

In 2017, the district court enjoined the possession ban from taking effect, pending resolution of the Duncan lawsuit. However, the ban on the sale, purchase, manufacture, importation, or acquisition of LCMs remained in effect during the appeal.

The Ninth Circuit stated in Tuesday’s majority opinion that the ban on LCMs supports the state’s efforts to curb the harm and tragedy of mass shootings.

“[I]n the past half-century, large-capacity magazines have been used in about three-quarters of gun massacres with 10 or more deaths and in 100 percent of gun massacres with 20 or more deaths, and more than twice as many people have been killed or injured in mass shootings that involved a large-capacity magazine as compared with mass shootings that involved a smaller-capacity magazine,” the court wrote.

Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Bonta in applauding the Ninth Circuit’s decision, tweeting, “Weapons of war don’t belong on our streets. This is a huge victory for the health and safety of all Californians.”

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