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NRA files second lawsuit challenging state gun laws, this time targeting ban on high-capacity magazines

Recovered weapons are displayed near the scene of the police confrontation with assailants after the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)
Recovered weapons are displayed near the scene of the police confrontation with assailants after the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

A coalition including the National Rifle Assn. on Thursday filed a second lawsuit challenging California’s new gun laws, this time arguing a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines is unconstitutional.

NRA attorneys representing the California Rifle and Pistol Assn., the group’s state affiliate, filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Diego, maintaining that the law banning possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition violates the due process and takings clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

“Legislators in California routinely enact laws that only affect the law-abiding and do nothing to enhance public safety,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “This lawsuit, and others that will follow, is an effort to ensure the rights of law-abiding gun owners are respected in California.”

Last month, the NRA and affiliated groups filed a lawsuit challenging another new law that bans the sale of semiautomatic rifles with bullet buttons that allow, with a tool, the removal and replacement of the magazine.

The new gun laws were approved last year by the Legislature and governor in response to the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting. Voters in November approved a ban on the magazines when they passed Proposition 63.

The lawsuit cites a section of the Constitution that says the government shall not take private property without just compensation. It also argued that, because the magazines have been purchased legally for years, it is a violation of due process to now take them without the owner having recourse.

“Banning magazines over 10 rounds is no more likely to reduce criminal abuse of guns than banning high horsepower engines is likely to reduce criminal abuse of automobiles,” the lawsuit says.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the leading backer of Proposition 63, said the legal challenge would fail. 

"The people of California have already spoken loudly and they resoundingly rejected the NRA's deceitful agenda. And federal courts have already spoken, in favor of public safety by restricting large capacity magazines," Newsom said. 

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