California Gun Control Laws Challenged Once More

AR-15 type rifle magazines, (top to bottom) 10-round, 20-round and 30-round (Reuters)
AR-15 type rifle magazines, (top to bottom) 10-round, 20-round and 30-round (Reuters)

It’s been a rough week or so for California’s gun control advocates. California and Massachusetts rank as two of the nation’s most restrictive states when it comes to gun control. It seems California’s efforts to further those restrictions have hit a snag.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a 9th Circuit ruling prohibiting concealed carry in public spaces, California’s attempts at tightening their already strict gun laws took another hit on Thursday.

At the request of attorneys for the NRA, U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez issued a preliminary injunction blocking a new law that requires CA gun owners to dispose of large-capacity ammunition magazines by Saturday or face fines and possible jail time.

“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 California affiliate of the NRA is still pursuing lawsuits seeking court decisions on the law, and those may take some time to work out — as court cases often do.

In the mean time, NRA attorney C.D. Michel 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.

Where the Gun Control Law Comes From

This law came in the wake of the San Bernadino shooting in which shooters used high-capacity magazines and AR-15-style assault rifles to carry out their deadly attacks.

But the trend of tightened laws following mass shootings remains a hot topic for the NRA and America’s gun owners. Historically, after mass shootings take place, gun owners often flock to their local range or gun show to buy up more firearms. It’s a legal practice that draws a lot of back and forth from gun advocates and opponents.

In a country where gun owners are already white-knuckle reluctant to forgo their armories, this law is a definite win.

The judge ruled Thursday that the ban — put in place by the Legislature and California voters last year — strips gun owners’ Second Amendment rights and amounts to the government seizing people’s private property without compensation. Not exactly kosher for a country founded on the sovereignty and rights of the people.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

California law has prohibited the purchase or sale of large-capacity magazines since 2000, but despite that those who already owned them legally have been allowed to keep that. This ban — now blocked and stuck in the judicial system — would have changed that in a big way.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been a big proponent of the ban. He recently submitted new rules regarding the sale and possession of assault weapons. But California regulators met that with resistance, blocking the rules temporarily.

Still Becerra believes tighter laws are just around the corner. His lawyers seem to agree.

“Unfortunately this law will be delayed but we are confident it will go into effect, and soon,” said Ari Freilich, staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He called out this San Diego lawsuit and ruling just one part of the NRA’s efforts “to delay and dismantle California’s law brick by brick.”

Had the ban been allowed to take effect, lawful owners of large capacity magazine assault weapons would’ve had to have sent their guns out of state for modification, destroy them, or turn them in to local law enforcement agencies.

Now, they’re free to keep their guns until further progress and decisions are made on the ban’s injunction.

“[The San Diego] court recognized that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right and that law-abiding gun owners have the right to own these magazines to defend themselves and their families,” said Chuck Michel, attorney for the NRA and California Rifle and Pistol Association.

Becerra said opponents’ Second Amendment challenge has repeatedly been rejected by other courts, allowing at least seven other states — including Massachusetts — and 11 local governments to limit the possession or sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Give Us Your Input

So what do you think? Is this ban a fair one? Should lawful owners be allowed to use large-capacity magazines for purposes of self-defense or is it a slippery slope to open access for violent individuals looking to cause mass harm? The gun control debate rages on and we want you to weigh in the comments below!