Editors Note: For years, the progressive clarion call has been to “follow California.” From auto emissions, treatment of the homeless, criminal enforcement or lack thereof, to gun policy, our oversized state has provided a swagger and arrogance coupled with its immense economic power, to change the political debate. However, overreach has now become a huge problem as well as public demonstration of failed policy. Now it seems that the new mantra needs to be “avoid becoming like California.” The controversy over “high capacity” and “semi-automatic weapons of war” is relatively new, but the weapons are not. Pictured above is a Mauser C96 “broom handle” that even came with a controversial “pistol brace.” When was this gun made available? It first appeared in 1896, 127 years ago. Clearly, guns have not changed. It is our people that have changed.
Federal judge Roger Benitez overturned California’s ban on standard-sized ammunition magazines, with California Attorney General Rob Bonta filing an immediate notice of appeal. The injunction on the ban will be stayed for 10 days, which means that the ban’s overturn will likely not take effect as the decision is appealed.
“Unless we enshrine a Right to Safety in the Constitution, we are at the mercy of ideologues like Judge Benitez,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a public statement responding to the decision. “This is exactly why I’ve called for a Constitutional amendment, and this is why I’ll keep fighting to defend our right to protect ourselves from gun violence.”
Standard-capacity magazines have been illegal to manufacture, import, keep, or offer for sale, give, or lend since 2000, and illegal to purchase or receive in any way since 2013. Proposition 64, passed by California voters in 2016, made it illegal to possess even legally acquired standard-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds under the rationale such a measure would limit mass shootings. Anyone who did not turn in their standard-capacity magazines by July 1, 2017, could have faced up to a year in prison before an earlier injunction by Benitez. The most popular firearm sold in 2022, a Sig Sauer P320 pistol, comes with a 15-round magazine except where otherwise limited, such as in California.
“There is no American history or tradition of regulating firearms based on the number of rounds they can shoot, or of regulating the amount of ammunition that can be kept and carried,” wrote Benitez in his latest ruling.
Benitez first struck down Proposition 63’s rule in June 2017 right before enforcement began, noting only six mass shootings between 2006 and 2013 used the banned magazines, and that “entitlement to enjoy Second Amendment rights and just compensation is not eliminated simply because they possess ‘unpopular’ magazines holding more than 10 rounds.” In 2018, a 2-1 panel of the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed Benitez’s ruling on the confiscations.
In 2019, Benitez ruled against the ban on the acquisition of standard-capacity magazines, citing varying outcomes of women’s self-defense cases where having additional bullets made the difference between life and death. This decision was upheld in a 2020 panel of the Ninth Circuit Court, then overturned by an en banc decision of the same court in 2021. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit Court’s en banc decision in 2022 and remanded it back to Benitez for a new decision. Benitez’s latest ruling, if upheld in the appeals process, could allow for the resumption of the legal sale of standard-capacity magazines in California.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.