A divided U.S. appeals court on Tuesday reinstated California’s ban on high-capacity magazines, calling it a reasonable means to support the state’s effort to reduce gun violence, including mass shootings.
By a 7-4 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims by gun rights advocates that the 2017 ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition violated their right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, and was an unconstitutional taking.
Rick Travis, director of development at the California Rifle & Pistol Association, a plaintiff in the case, said the organization will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and file a motion seeking to stay enforcement of the large-capacity magazine ban pending the outcome of the case.
“Second Amendment people, and all people, need their constitutional rights to be very clear,” Travis said.
Unless a stay is rejected, the ruling would have no immediate effect. Large capacity magazines were not being sold in the state and those who already had owned them before they were outlawed were not required to dispose or modify them while the case was being litigated.
“Nothing will change at all until the Supreme Court decides what it’s going to do with the case,” Travis said.
A three-judge panel of the same court had in August 2020 sided with a lower court judge who struck down the ban, saying it was “well-intentioned” but interfered with the constitutional right to armed self-defense.
The appeals court set aside https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-court-reconsider-california-ban-high-capacity-magazines-2021-02-25 that ruling in February, so the dispute could be considered by an 11-judge panel.
Circuit Judge Susan Graber wrote for Tuesday’s majority that the ban was a “reasonable fit for the important government interest of reducing gun violence,” and interfered “only minimally” with the right to self-defense.
“There is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large capacity magazine,” Graber wrote. “More than twice as many people have been killed or injured in mass shootings that involved a large-capacity magazine as compared with mass shootings that involved a smaller-capacity magazine.”
Travis said “our opposition is already exaggerating the figures” regarding gun violence.
Lawyers for opponents of the ban did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta, which defended the ban, did not immediately respond to a similar request.
Democratic presidents appointed the seven judges in Tuesday’s majority, while Republican presidents appointed the four dissenting judges.
Travis said given the court’s makeup, Tuesday’s decision supporting the magazine ban “was not unexpected.”