After more than two years, California’s ban on high-capacity magazine magazines is back.
A 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday unanimously overturned a decision that invalidated California’s law, which prohibited possession of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. That version of the law, passed in 2013, was subsequently signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.
Opponents argued that the law violated the Second Amendment, noting that most magazine capacities are built to house one, round-in-one-round, gun magazine. In 2012, the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative was the first state to try to ban magazines designed for auto use but which were turned into home firearms, with Proposition 103 passed that year.
That law was later upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court, which found that there was not a fundamental difference between an auto magazine and one created to hold a weapon.
Guns magazine that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition on display at a gun show in New York.
California’s law, however, was struck down because it, as a “bans ‘high-capacity magazines’ specifically.” The 2nd Circuit recognized as such, concluding that the ban could be defended under the Second Amendment if other factors were considered.
The court also found that lower courts can hold the law invalid because the ban “could not plausibly serve any legitimate state interest” if it was not unconstitutional.
“We hold that the ‘maximal capacity’ provision does not serve any legitimate state interest because it may discourage criminals from purchasing firearms in California,” the appeals court wrote.
The law was originally thought to be a precursor to universal background checks. In 2011, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill requiring gun dealers to report illegal purchases, but that requirement was amended to include reporting of completed purchases, a part that eluded public attention at the time. However, it was later revealed that the entire bill was never meant to take effect in the way that Schwarzenegger intended, and that the rule would allow for the reporting of completed sales.
“It would have remained an accounting measure had it not come to be viewed as gun control legislation,” Feinstein told San Francisco’s CBS affiliate.
The law was one of several signature initiatives passed by Brown in 2013 during a state “legislative session,” a time when there was greater attention on gun policy. (Brown, who is now in his second week as governor of Illinois, has not yet commented on Thursday’s decision.)
In a brief concurring opinion, Judge Susan Graber wrote that she agreed with the majority “that the dangerousness test cannot preclude the Legislature from regulating the possession of high-capacity magazines and that the residual amendment requirement ‘is not a true residual limitation on legislative discretion.’”
“As a result, under the majority’s reading, large capacity magazines may continue to be used with impunity,” Graber wrote.