Gun rights groups cheer high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zine rul­ing

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - By Fred Bar­bash

SAN DIEGO – Gun rights ad­vo­cates are hail­ing a fed­eral court rul­ing strik­ing down Cal­i­for­nia’s ban on high-ca­pac­ity gun mag­a­zines as per­haps the broad­est and most force­ful ju­di­cial state­ment yet of the right to bear arms, an an­ti­dote to what they see as treat­ment of the Se­cond Amend­ment as a “dis­fa­vored right.”

The sweep­ing de­ci­sion by San Diego-based U.S. Dis­trict Judge Roger Ben­itez de­clared un­con­sti­tu­tional a sec­tion of Propo­si­tion 63, ap­proved by the state’s vot­ers in 2016 af­ter sev­eral mass shoot­ings, which for­bids pos­ses­sion of gun mag­a­zines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Ben­itez, an ap­pointee of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, opened with a dra­matic, anec­do­tal recita­tion of killings in which the vic­tims tried to de­fend them­selves only to run out of am­mu­ni­tion.

He ref­er­enced the Nazi ban on Jews pos­sess­ing weapons and re­viewed re­cent mass shoot­ings in the United States, say­ing there was no ev­i­dence a ban like Cal­i­for­nia’s would have saved any­one.

“Bad po­lit­i­cal ideals can­not be stopped by crim­i­nal­iz­ing bad po­lit­i­cal speech,” Ben­itez wrote in the rul­ing, is­sued late last week.

“Crime waves can­not be bro­ken with war­rant­less searches and un­rea­son­able searches. Nei­ther can the gov­ern­ment re­sponse to a few mad men with guns and am­mu­ni­tion be a law that turns mil­lions of re­spon­si­ble, lawabid­ing peo­ple try­ing to pro­tect them­selves into crim­i­nals.”

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s In­sti­tute for Leg­isla­tive Ac­tion called it “one of the strong­est ju­di­cial state­ments in fa­vor of the Se­cond Amend­ment to date.”

In a state­ment, the group’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Chris Cox, said it was a “land­mark recog­ni­tion of what courts have too of­ten treated as a dis­fa­vored right.”

Chuck Michel, who rep­re­sented plain­tiff Vir­ginia Dun­can as well as the Cal­i­for­nia Ri­fle and Pis­tol As­so­ci­a­tion, said in an in­ter­view that the de­ci­sion could be used to counter what he called the “ju­di­cial mis­chief” caused by other courts.

Eric Tirschwell, lit­i­ga­tion direc­tor at Every­town for Gun Safety, said the de­ci­sion un­der­scored “the dan­ger­ous gun lobby view that more lethal firearms will make Amer­ica safer.” He noted that ev­ery fed­eral ap­peals court that has con­sid­ered such re­stric­tions has gone the other way.

Among them is the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 9th Cir­cuit, where Ben­itez’s de­ci­sion is bound.

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