Pro-High Capacity Magazine Decision

Western Journal
By: Ben Marquis
April 4, 2019

America Needs To Hear Judge’s Words in Pro-High Capacity Magazine Decision

A federal district judge in California recently knocked down that state’s ban on firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition as being an unconstitutional infringement of the Second Amendment.

The liberal media hasn’t really said too much about the ramifications of this ruling, and for good reason, as it undermines a major argument put forward by the anti-gun crowd in support of their confiscatory gun control schemes.

NBC News reported U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez struck down the ban on possession of “large capacity magazines” that hold more than 10 rounds, in large part due to the commonality of such ammunition feeding devices.

Benitez also slammed the lawmakers who think they know what citizens need to defend themselves and their families or protect their homes and property from common armed criminals.

The judge’s 86-page ruling began by declaring “Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” and compared three stories of home invasions in which a woman used a firearm to defend against her assailants.

In two of those cases, the victim ran out of ammunition prior to the end of the criminal assault against them, while in the third case, a woman dressed in only pajamas with a large capacity magazine managed to fend off three attackers because she had the extra ammunition in the large capacity magazine.

Benitez wrote that the woman “held a phone in one hand and took up her pistol in the other and began shooting. She fired numerous shots. She had no place to carry an extra magazine and no way to reload because her left hand held the phone with which she was still trying to call 911. After the shooting was over and two of the armed suspects got away and one lay dead, she did get through to the police.”

California first instituted a ban on so-called large capacity magazines in 2000 but allowed those who already possessed such magazines to keep them. However, the law was changed in 2016 to no longer grandfather those previously possessed magazines. Benitez had issued an injunction in 2017 to block the implementation of that law, which would have required all such magazines be turned in or else risk a felony charge for unlawful possession.

The reasoning behind the added confiscation and penalties for possession was to reduce death counts in mass shootings. However, Benitez noted that while incredibly tragic, mass shootings were also “extremely rare,” and the law-abiding citizenry shouldn’t be infringed upon with a “solution” to a relatively small problem.

Citing the prevalence of common crimes versus mass shootings — and the fact that it wholly depends on each individual incident to know how many rounds will be needed to defend oneself — the judge decried the limit of 10 rounds to be a significant burden on the Second Amendment-protected right of all law-abiding Americans to possess “arms” necessary for self-defense.

The ruling cited the Supreme Court’s monumental District of Columbia v. Heller decision in 2008, as well as other cases similarly couched on that precedent, which guaranteed the right of Americans to possess “common” arms. Benitez ruled that standard magazines that hold more than 10 rounds fell into the category of being arms in common use.

He also gave a nod to the “militia” clause in the Second Amendment later in the ruling by noting that, in the unlikely but still possible event a citizen militia would need to defend the country in the future, they would likely have to do so with firearms and magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

“Constitutional rights stand through time holding fast through the ebb and flow of current controversy. Needing a solution to a current law enforcement difficulty cannot be justification for ignoring the Bill of Rights as bad policy. Bad political ideas cannot be stopped by criminalizing bad political speech,” Benitez wrote.

“Crime waves cannot be broken with warrantless searches and unreasonable seizures. Neither can the government response to a few mad men with guns and ammunition be a law that turns millions of responsible, law-abiding people trying to protect themselves into criminals. Yet, this is the effect of California’s large-capacity magazine law,” he added.

The judge also took on the leftist trope that firearms holding more than 10 rounds were “too lethal” for the average citizen to possess. After noting that all firearms of any capacity are “dangerous” and “lethal,” he followed the faulty logic to conclude that, if the 10-round limit were allowed to stand, it could eventually be reduced by the state to as few as one allowable round — a ridiculous notion that would completely undermine the entire premise of armed self-defense.

Judge Benitez concluded that California’s ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds could not survive any level of legal scrutiny, nor was it historically acceptable prohibition, and thus was unconstitutional as it placed an unfair and severe burden on law-abiding citizens.

This judge is exactly right. Nobody knows how many rounds will be necessary to defend against an unknown number of assailants, and arbitrary limits imposed by the state — with criminal liability for non-compliance — only serve to burden law-abiding citizens while having no effect on criminals who are already violating existing laws.

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