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9th Circuit ends California ban on high-capacity magazines

Custom-made semiautomatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity, detachable magazine.
(Associated Press)

A federal appeals court on Friday tossed out California’s ban on high-capacity magazines — those holding 10 or more bullets — finding that it “runs afoul of the Second Amendment.”

“California’s almost blanket ban on LCMs (large-capacity magazines) goes too far in substantially burdening the people’s right to self-defense,” Judge Kenneth K. Lee wrote in the 66-page decision.

Lee also wrote that while he understands the reason behind the law, “even the laudable goal of reducing gun violence must comply with the Constitution.”

The three-judge panel ruling was split. Judge Barbara Lynn dissented, finding that the majority opinion conflicted with prior decisions from the court.

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Magazines that hold 10 or more bullets have been illegal to sell, manufacture, import or transfer in California since 2000. In 2016, the Legislature passed a bill that would make ownership of the gun parts an infraction.

That same year, California voters passed Proposition 63, a clarifying measure holding that people who owned high-capacity magazines had to get rid of them.

In 2017, the California Rifle and Pistol Assn. — the state arm of the National Rifle Assn. — and five San Diego County residents sued in federal court, arguing that the ruling infringed on the constitutional right to bear arms. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez sided with the plaintiffs, and blocked the law days before it was to go into effect.

California appealed. Friday’s ruling upholds Benitez’s decision.

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Chuck Michel, president and General Counsel of the California Rifle & Pistol Assn., issued a statement calling Friday’s decision “a major victory for the Second Amendment,” in California and nationally.

“This is a huge win specifically for the right to possess these valuable self-defense tools,” Michel said.

It was not immediately clear whether California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra would appeal the decision.

Figueroa writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Updates:

2:46 PM, Aug. 14, 2020: This story has been updated with comments from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

1:37 PM, Aug. 14, 2020: This story was updated with a statement from NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter.


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