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US court reinstates ‘large capacity magazine ban’ in California

An M4A1 rifle. (MaxPixel/Released)
December 01, 2021

A federal appeals court reinstated California’s ban on “large-capacity” magazines Tuesday, arguing that limiting the size of a magazine “only minimally” infringes on Americans’ right to self-defense.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-4 in favor of the ban, reasoning that “the statute outlaws no weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that may be used with firearms.”

The court added that “the record demonstrates that the limitation interferes only minimally with the core right of self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large-capacity magazine; and … that the limitation saves lives.”

“The court noted that in 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 ruling stated.

The court said the ban on “large-capacity” magazines “reasonably supported California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings.”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a decision made last year by a smaller 9th Circuit panel, which determined that the ban on so-called “large-capacity” magazines – defined as being able to hold more than 10 bullets — violated the Second Amendment, CBS5 reported.

Three Trump-appointed judges argued against the court’s decision, writing that “large-capacity” magazines are owned by millions of Americans across the United States, and noted if similar laws were implemented nationwide, they would “require confiscating half of all existing firearms magazines in this country.”

“The state bans magazines that can carry over ten rounds—a firearm component with a long historical lineage commonly used by Americans for lawful purposes, like self-defense. Indeed, these magazines are lawfully owned by millions of people nationwide and come standard on the most popular firearms sold today,” the dissenting judges wrote. “If California’s law applied nationwide, it would require confiscating half of all existing firearms magazines in this country. California nevertheless prevents its citizens from owning these magazines. But the Constitution protects the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms typically possessed for lawful purposes.”

The dissenters noted that the decision was not made on the belief that the magazines lack constitutional protection “because the majority has decided that the costs of enforcing the Second Amendment’s promise are too high.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted his support for the court’s decision, writing, “Weapons of war don’t belong on our streets. This is a huge victory for the health and safety of all Californians.”