A federal judge gave California gun owners a reprieve Thursday, temporarily blocking a new law that would have required the destruction or out-of-state transfer of any magazines over 10 rounds.
U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez issued the preliminary injunction until the courts can determine the constitutionality of the magazine ban.
“If this injunction does not issue, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property,” Benitez wrote. “That is a choice they should not have to make.”
The magazine ban is the result of a November referendum in which 63 percent of Californians voted in favor of Proposition 63, a measure that, in addition to the magazine ban, also requires background checks for people buying ammunition, makes it a crime not to report lost or stolen guns, and provides a process for taking guns from people upon their conviction for a felony.
Proposition 63 would have required anyone in possession of a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds to transfer it to a federally licensed gun dealer, destroy it or turn it over to law enforcement. The measure was set to take effect July 1.
Proposition 63 was a part of a larger series of gun control measures – known popularly as “gunmageddon” – passed by the California legislature last year. The National Rifle Association and the California Rifle & Pistol Association are preparing a “series of carefully planned lawsuits” to challenge these provisions, according to a press release from the NRA-ILA.
“California’s attempt to ban the possession of standard capacity magazines is unconstitutional, and an affront to law-abiding gun owners who have safely, and lawfully owned these tools for decades,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “This injunction is a huge win for California gun owners who have long-suffered under a state government hostile to the Second Amendment.”
NRA attorney C.D. Michel also welcomed the granting of the preliminary injunction.
“My clients are pleased the Court affirmed that the Second Amendment is not a second class right, and that law abiding gun owners have a right to choose to have these magazines to help them defend themselves and their families,” Michel said in a statement.
NRA attorneys argued that the magazine ban violates the Second Amendment, the due process clause, and the takings clause of the United States Constitution.
California state attorneys are also ready to continue the fight. State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra argued that the magazine ban is justified because “large-capacity magazines are disproportionately used in crime.” Considering the fact that any type of rifle – not only those that can accept > 10-round magazines – were used in 2 percent of homicides in 2014, it isn’t clear what Becerra means by “disproportionally used in crime.”
He nonetheless remains convinced that banning 20 and 30-round magazines will help decrease “gun violence” in The Golden State.
“Restricting large-capacity magazines and preventing them from ending up in the wrong hands is critical for the well-being of our communities,” he said in the statement. “I will defend the will of California voters because we cannot continue to lose innocent lives due to gun violence.”