Fed­eral judge blocks high-ca­pac­ity am­mu­ni­tion mag­a­zine law

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY DON THOMPSON

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. | A fed­eral judge on Thurs­day blocked a Cal­i­for­nia law set to take ef­fect Satur­day that would have barred gun own­ers from pos­sess­ing high-ca­pac­ity am­mu­ni­tion mag­a­zines.

The judge ruled that the ban ap­proved by the Leg­is­la­ture last year de­nies gun own­ers’ Sec­ond Amend­ment rights and amounts to the gov­ern­ment tak­ing peo­ple’s pri­vate prop­erty with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

Cal­i­for­nia law has pro­hib­ited buy­ing or sell­ing the mag­a­zines since 2000, but un­til now al­lowed those who had them to keep them.

“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,” San Diegob­ased U.S. Dis­trict Judge Roger Ben­itez wrote.

He is­sued a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion block­ing the law from tak­ing ef­fect while he con­sid­ers the un­der­ly­ing law­suit filed by the Cal­i­for­nia Ri­fle & Pis­tol As­so­ci­a­tion.

A Sacramento-based judge is con­sid­er­ing an­other chal­lenge filed by dif­fer­ent firearm own­ers’ or­ga­ni­za­tions.

State law­mak­ers ap­proved the ban last year as part of a pack­age of bills adding to what al­ready were some of the na­tion’s strictest gun laws. Vot­ers agreed in Novem­ber when they ap­proved Propo­si­tion 63, a mea­sure that tough­ened the penal­ties by al­low­ing vi­o­la­tors to be fined or jailed.

The judge said he was mind­ful of vot­ers’ ap­proval and gov­ern­ment’s le­git­i­mate in­ter­est in pro­tect­ing the public but added that the “Con­sti­tu­tion is a shield from the tyranny of the ma­jor­ity.”

Gun owner’s con­sti­tu­tional rights can­not be dis­re­garded “sim­ply be­cause they pos­sess ‘un­pop­u­lar’ mag­a­zines hold­ing more than 10 rounds,” he wrote in a 66-page de­ci­sion.

Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra, who is de­fend­ing the state law, did not im­me­di­ately com­ment.

Sup­port­ers say that mag­a­zines of­ten hold­ing 30 or 100 bul­lets are typ­i­cally used in mass shoot­ings and aren’t needed by hunters or civil­ian own­ers.

Forc­ing as­sailants to change mag­a­zines more fre­quently gives vic­tims time to flee or sub­due the shooter, Mr. Be­cerra ar­gued in court fil­ings.

He listed as ex­am­ples the shoot­ing in Or­lando, Florida, that killed 49 peo­ple and in­jured 53; the ter­ror­ist as­sault that killed 14 and in­jured 22 in San Bernardino; the mas­sacre of chil­dren and teach­ers at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut; and the Ari­zona at­tack that killed six and wounded 13 in­clud­ing for­mer U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords.

The gov­ern­ment isn’t il­le­gally seiz­ing gun own­ers’ prop­erty be­cause own­ers re­tain the op­tion of con­vert­ing the mag­a­zines to only hold 10 bul­lets, sell­ing them or trans­fer­ring them out of state, Mr. Be­cerra ar­gued.

More­over, the gov­ern­ment won’t own the mag­a­zines in the way it would prop­erty seized for a new high­way or public build­ing, he ar­gued, since the mag­a­zines would be de­stroyed by law en­force­ment agen­cies.


The judge ruled that the ban de­nies gun own­ers’ Sec­ond Amend­ment rights and amounts to the gov­ern­ment tak­ing peo­ple’s pri­vate prop­erty with­out com­pen­sa­tion.

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