Huge win for gun owners and the Constitution: Federal court finds California magazine ban violates Second Amendment

“Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” Judge Roger T. Benitez declared.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California judge found that the state’s ban on common, widely owned firearm magazines of more than 10 rounds violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

He ordered the state to stop enforcing the law pending further legal developments. The ruling spread like wildfire throughout the country’s liberty-loving gun community.

The law and others like this elsewhere are intended to regulate guns and their use without actually making the law about guns. In the ruling, Benitez noted: “If it restricts your right to own and operate your firearm, it’s a violation of the Second Amendment.

“However, just as the court is mindful that a majority of California voters approved Proposition 63 and the government has a legitimate interest in protecting the public from gun violence, it is equally mindful that the Constitution is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.”

The NRA characterizes Benitez’s ruling in the Duncan vs. Becerra case as, “one of the strongest judicial statements in favor of the Second Amendment to date.

The case had already last summer been forwarded up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the issue of whether the law’s enforcement should be suspended during proceedings on its constitutionality. In July, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld Benitez’s suspension of enforcement and sent the case back to him to continue the proceedings on merits of the law.

His comprehensive, scholarly opinion was rendered late Friday. Second Amendment supporters were handed a powerful, victorious ruling that completely invalidated California’s 10-round limit on magazine capacity.

Benitez also commented that the California law was an attempt at “turning the Constitution upside down.”

Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, trumpeted the decision as a “huge win for gun owners” and a “landmark recognition of what courts have too often treated as a disfavored right.” 

“Judge Benitez took the Second Amendment seriously and came to the conclusion required by the Constitution,” Cox said. “The same should be true of any court analyzing a ban on a class of arms law-abiding Americans commonly possess for self-defense or other lawful purposes.”

“The statute hits at the center of the Second Amendment and its burden is severe,” Judge Benitez said. “When the simple test of Heller is applied, a test that persons of common intelligence can understand, the statute fails and is an unconstitutional abridgment. It criminalizes the otherwise lawful acquisition and possession of common magazines holding more than 10 rounds – magazines that law-abiding responsible citizens would choose for self-defense at home. It also fails the strict scrutiny test because the statute is not narrowly tailored – it is not tailored at all.”

On the NRA-ILA website, the group indicated that the judge’s ruling is not likely to be the last word on the case. “The state will likely appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which has proven notably hostile to the Second Amendment in past decisions. Nevertheless, the thoroughness of Judge Benitez’s analysis should give Second Amendment supporters the best possible chance for success in appellate proceedings, particularly if the case ultimately lands before the U.S. Supreme Court.”


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