SAN DIEGO: A federal judge in California on Friday declared that the state’s ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition was unconstitutional, saying it violated the Second Amendment rights of firearms owners.

US district judge Roger Benitez in San Diego said California’s “sweeping ban” went too far by preventing people from using magazines for lawful purposes, including self-defence.

“The history and tradition of the Second Amendment clearly supports state laws against the use or misuse of firearms with unlawful intent, but not the disarmament of the law-abiding citizen,” Benitez wrote in a 71-page decision.

Benitez cited a June 2022 decision by the US Supreme Court, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen, requiring that firearms restrictions be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation” to pass muster.

California’s attorney-general Rob Bonta, who enforces the state’s laws, plans to seek a stay while he appeals the decision at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

He said Californians need to be kept safe from weapons enhancements that are “designed” to cause mass casualties.

“The Supreme Court was clear that Bruen did not create a regulatory straitjacket for states – and we believe that the district court got this wrong,” Bonta said. “We will move quickly to correct this incredibly dangerous mistake.”

Benitez delayed enforcing his injunction against the law for 10 days to give Bonta time to seek a stay.

The judge had struck down the magazines ban in March 2019, but the 9th Circuit overturned it in November 2021. The Supreme Court vacated the appeals court ruling and ordered new proceedings consistent with the Bruen decision.

Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, in a statement, said Friday’s decision reflects the “sea of change in the way courts must look at these absurdly restrictive laws.”

California governor Gavin Newsom, who has criticised Benitez for multiple decisions favouring firearms owners, had praised the appeals court ruling as a “huge victory for the health and safety of all Californians.”

The case is Duncan et al v Bonta, US District Court, Southern District of California, No 17-01017. - Reuters

Clickable Image
Clickable Image
Clickable Image