August 17, 2020
California’s 2016 ban on so-called “high capacity magazines” (defined as any magazine holding more than ten rounds of ammunition) has been struck down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
A three judge panel issued a decision today holding that California’s ban was not narrowly tailored to the state’s interest in preventing mass shootings, and constituted “a statewide blanket ban on possession everywhere and for nearly everyone.”
The court further held that the ban rendered half of the 230 million magazines in America illegal and therefore imposed a substantial burden on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Since magazines are required for many modern firearms to operate, they are not “unusual” items that could be restricted without considering the effect on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The court left open the possibility that the ban could be tailored to pass constitutional muster, such as by including a grandfather clause for those who already owned high-capacity magazines, or by exempting residents of rural parts of the state who may face considerable response times from law enforcement.
The dissenting judge agreed that the ban placed a burden on the Second Amendment rights of Californians, but concluded that burden was not substantial, because it did not restrict the number of magazines that could be owned, and firearms could still operate with lower capacity magazines.
The office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stated that it is “carefully reviewing the decision,” and it is unknown whether it will request a rehearing before the entire Ninth Circuit, or seek review by the United States Supreme Court.
Renzulli Law Firm is continuing to monitor this litigation. If you have any questions concerning firearms related litigation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.