(CN) — Siding with a lower court judge who found California’s ban on high-capacity gun magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition is illegal and could lead to women being “raped and dead,” a duo of GOP-appointed Ninth Circuit judges Friday ruled the ban violates the Second Amendment.
In a 66-page order, U.S. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lee, a Donald Trump appointee, found California’s voter-approved Proposition 63 — enacted in 2016 to ban the high-capacity gun magazines frequently used in mass shootings — violates the Second Amendment.
Lee found Proposition 63 burdens conduct protected by the Second Amendment, as firearm magazines are protected under the Constitution, not “unusual” and are commonly owned for lawful purposes.
He further found Proposition 63 “struck at the core right of law-abiding citizens to self-defend by banning LCM possession within the home," using the acronym for "large-capacity magazine."
The state’s “compelling interest” in mitigating gun violence was not narrowly tailored by “a statewide blanket ban on possession everywhere and for nearly everyone.” As such, Proposition 63 was not the “least restrictive means” of preventing mass casualties, Lee wrote.
Lee affirmed U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez’s decision last year granting summary judgment in favor of gun owner Virginia Duncan and the California Pistol & Rifle Association. Benitez found gun magazines over 10 rounds are commonly owned “by law-abiding responsible citizens for lawful uses like self-defense.”
In his order striking down the law, and during a four-hour court hearing in 2018, Benitez referenced women’s need to be able to protect themselves from home intrusions and rape as a reason California residents needs access to high-capacity gun magazines.
His sentiment was echoed by U.S. Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan, a George W. Bush appointee, during the virtual Ninth Circuit hearing on the case this past April.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, a Bill Clinton appointee sitting by designation from the Northern District of Texas, wrote in a 14-page dissent that her colleagues’ order conflicts with legal precedent set by the Ninth Circuit and sister courts regarding high-capacity gun magazines.
In a statement on its website, California Rifle & Pistol Association president and general counsel Chuck Michel called the order a “major victory for the Second Amendment, both in California and across the country.”
“This is a huge win specifically for the right to possess these valuable self-defense tools. But more generally, this case may present the Supreme Court with an opportunity to set things straight on the underlying issue of what the standard of review test should be when considering any Second Amendment challenge,” Michel said.
In a statement to Courthouse News, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Office said they are “carefully reviewing the decision, with the goal of protecting public safety.”
“The attorney general remains committed to using every tool possible to defend California’s gun safety laws and keep our communities safe.”
Lee found California’s law imposed a substantial burden on the right to self-defense, making half of all 230 million gun magazines in America illegal to own in the Golden State including ammunition which comes standard on Glocks, Berettas and other handguns “that are staples of self-defense.”
Unlike waiting period laws and other limitations the state has enacted to mitigate gun violence, Lee found Proposition 63 “went too far.” He suggested had the law contained a grandfather clause for those who already owned high-capacity magazines or carve-outs for those in rural parts of the state who may need access to the weapons, it may have passed constitutional muster.
“Many Californians may find solace in the security of a handgun equipped with an LCM: those who live in rural areas where the local sheriff may be miles away, law-abiding citizens trapped in high-crime areas, communities that distrust or depend less on law enforcement, and many more who rely on their firearms to protect themselves and their families. California’s almost blanket ban on LCMs goes too far in substantially burdening the people’s right to self-defense,” Lee wrote.