The Five Reasons the 3rd Circuit Court Upheld New Jersey ‘Large-Capacity’ Mag Ban

The court ruled that the ban does not violate Second, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendment rights.

A three-judge appellate panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court upheld last week New Jersey’s ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

The ruling directly contradicts a recent ruling out of the Ninth Circuit and could finally force the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a gun rights case and resolve the dispute.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit voted 2-1 to back previous rulings from a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court as well as the District Court for New Jersey.

The court argued simultaneously that a magazine ban could prevent deaths during a mass murder event and that limiting the number of rounds in a magazine does not affect the ability of the law-abiding to defend themselves.

The law “does not prohibit the possession of the quintessential self-defense weapon, the handgun,” nor does it “effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend” themselves, the court ruled.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs brought the suit immediately after the 10-round mag ban was passed in 2018. They argued that the ban violates the Second, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights of New Jersey residents.

SEE ALSO: Federal Appeals Court Rules California’s Magazine Ban Unconstitutional

The court agreed with the previous rulings to strike down the gun-rights group’s arguments on all counts. They argued that the ban does not violate core Second Amendment rights for five reasons:

  • it does not categorically ban a class of firearms but is rather a ban on a subset of magazines;
  • it is not a prohibition of a class of arms overwhelmingly chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home;
  • it does not disarm or substantially affect Americans’ ability to defend themselves;
  • New Jersey residents can still possess and use magazines, just with fewer rounds; and
  • “it cannot be the case that possession of a firearm in the home for self-defense is a protected form of possession under all circumstances. By this rationale, any type of firearm possessed in the home would be protected merely because it could be used for self-defense.”

Furthermore, the law survives intermediate scrutiny because it recognizes New Jersey’s “significant, substantial, and important interest in protecting its citizens’ safety.” How? Because, according to the court, there is enough evidence to suggest that during a mass murder, a limited mag capacity will allow “victims… to flee, bystanders to intervene, and numerous injuries will be avoided in a mass shooting incident.”

The court does not resolve the inherent contradiction in its argument: if a mag ban does affect a murderer’s ability to kill, how does it not affect a law-abiding person’s ability to defend himself?

The court also ruled that the law does not violate the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause because it provides avenues for New Jersey residents to modify, transfer, or surrender their magazines. It doesn’t violate the Fourteenth Amendment because the exceptions made for police officers are justified by the officers’ additional training.

SEE ALSO: Hawaii Lawmakers May Limit Magazine Capacity to 5 Rounds

In a lengthy dissent, Trump-appointed Judge Paul Matey argues that New Jersey’s mag ban does not satisfy the standards of “intermediate scrutiny” applied to a potential Second Amendment violation. He points out that the state hasn’t proven that such bans actually affect the death count during a mass murder. Even if the state had made a convincing case, it’s unclear whether a limit on magazine capacity will “affect the outcomes of enough gun attacks to measurably reduce gun injuries and death.”

In a footnote, he also points out that mass murderers do not fire at high rates during their killing sprees, meaning that taking an extra 2-4 seconds to reload won’t affect the ultimate outcome of the event.  

The ruling from the Third Circuit comes only weeks after the U.S. Ninth Circuit concluded the opposite. Their three-judge panel ruled that “large-capacity” magazines are protected by the Second Amendment because 10-round limits “impose a substantial burden on the right to self-defense.”

In a normal world, this issue would be immediately taken up by the Supreme Court. One of their most important jobs is to settle disputes between the lower circuit courts. But given Justice John Roberts’ unwillingness to take any gun-related cases, it’s anyone’s guess whether this issue will be resolved until the court’s makeup changes.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

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  • Arthur Hall September 13, 2020, 7:48 pm

    And a 10 round magazine capacity limit doesn’t limit the potential for self defense – which is why every Police and Security force in the world has moved from 6 round revolvers to HIGH CAPACITY mag semi-autos…
    And the statement “police can be exempted due to their extra training” simply doesn’t hold water in most cases. Most Police forces training in firearms use is pathetically lacking.

  • Robert Frasconi September 12, 2020, 9:58 am

    John Roberts is compromised. It makes one wonder what the Deep State Communists gave on him.

  • John September 11, 2020, 8:33 pm

    You may not want the Supremes to take up the issue unless Trump is re-elected and appoints a Ginsburg replacement.

  • jb September 11, 2020, 6:25 pm

    Well if it doesn’t hinder ones ability to defend themselves then it is only fair to give the same limitations to the police, government and military. You know what’s good for the people is good for all.

    • chinchy September 13, 2020, 10:40 am

      Who’s going to check the mag capacity on the guns being used by BLM, ANTIFA and MS-13?

  • Mark A Gutsmiedl September 11, 2020, 10:51 am

    So the court feels that limiting the number of rounds to 10 does not affect your ability to defend yourself? How many videos have we seen where an officer shoots at one suspect 6 to eight times and only hits them a couple times and sometimes the suspect does not stop after being hit several times? These are suppose to be trained officers. I am not trying to put down the police. How many of us have been in that kind of high stress situation? If they used even 6 – 7 rounds, and their firearms would have only held 10 rounds, what would they do if there were 2 -3 attackers? What would we do if 2-3 attackers entered our homes? 10 round limits definately limits our ability to defend ourselves. What about if there we shooters at say a Walmart as we have seen in the past? How many rounds should we have to try to stop the shooter(s)? Let’s put those juges into a simulator and see how they do with just 10 rounds!

    • deanbob September 11, 2020, 1:55 pm

      For a group who profess to be so smart (the left), what is so damn hard for them to understand about what

      ……… shall not be “infringed” …………… means?

  • Dr Motown September 11, 2020, 9:13 am

    Where does the nonsense end? Should the government put speed governors on cars to minimize traffic fatalities? Issue ration tickets for alcohol? Control your food choices?

    • Winston September 11, 2020, 12:49 pm

      Federal 3rd Dist. ‘Court’ ( s.i.c. ): Now that we have most of you wearing ineffective decorative face diapers that restrict your ability to breath in the middle of the summer, we also declare that 10 bullets- that being the total number number of fingers most are born with- are more than enough to defend yourself from our Democrat-donor BLM mobs hell-bent on beating you to death, whitey. Now put on that face shield and do not forget your gloves.

  • Nick September 11, 2020, 7:09 am

    Gotta have two or more guns on your person to protect yourself then…..or tell the bad guys with more rounds than you to wait a sec while you reload.

  • Mark N. September 10, 2020, 12:42 am

    It will not likely be taken up immediately by the Supreme Court. The California AG petitioned for en banc review, and plaintiffs have been ordered to respond to the petition. Amicus briefs in favor of review have been filed by the usual suspects. Given the still (slight) majority of left leaning anti-gun judges, a grant of en banc review is likely, meaning two things: a grant of review supersedes the panel decision and the panel decision may no longer be cited; and a final disposition is at least a few years off.

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