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Judge reinstates ban on high-capacity gun magazine purchases during appeal

From left to right: Mini-30 magazine [20 round], AK-47 magazine [30 round], SKS stripper clip [10 round] with alternating Wolf and Silver Bear ammunition, and SKS detachable magazine [30 round]. (Public Domain Pictures/Released)

A San Diego federal judge last week knocked down a state law banning high-capacity gun magazines, but in a new ruling Thursday held that sales and manufacturing of such parts will remain against the law until the case has exhausted all appeals.

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez’s latest order essentially returns the situation surrounding magazines holding more than 10 bullets to the status quo that has been in place since the summer of 2017, when the judge granted a preliminary injunction. According to the terms, gun owners can’t acquire new magazines, but they aren’t barred from owning them.

The state Attorney General’s Office petitioned the judge for a stay to his final decision on the lawsuit, Duncan v. Beccera, until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal can weigh in.

Benitez, while very clear in his March 29 opinion that the state’s ban is unconstitutional, agreed Thursday that “strong and thoughtful views may be found on both sides of the important legal questions presented by this case.”

The judge said that while he is not convinced of the state’s likelihood to succeed on appeal, he recognizes other courts have arrived at contrasting views on this issue.

“This Court’s decision cuts a less-traveled path and the outcome is very important to all citizens,” Benitez said.

The stay also protects anyone who acquired a large-capacity magazine between the judge’s March 29 decision and 5 p.m. Friday. On Twitter Thursday, gun advocates encouraged people to order magazines before the window closed.

The lawsuit was filed by people who either wanted such magazines for self defense or wanted to keep ones they already owned. While it has been illegal in the state to buy or sell these magazines for several years, the 2016 law required existing owners to get rid of them.

Benitez wrote in his March 29 opinion that such a law “turns millions of responsible, law-abiding people trying to protect themselves into criminals.”


© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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