The Union Democrat

US appeals court upholds California’s ban on large-capacity firearms magazines


SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court decided Tuesday to uphold California’s ban on large-scale ammunition magazines in a ruling that is likely to lead to the court’s approval of the state’s ban on assault weapons.

In an en banc decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-3 that a state law that limits the size of magazines that may be used with firearms does not significan­tly interfere with the right to self defense. The court noted that there was no evidence that a person has been unable to defend a home because of a lack of large-capacity magazines.

During the past 50 years, the court said, large-capacity magazines have been used in about three-quarters of mass shootings that resulted in 10 or more deaths, and in 100% of massacres with 20 or more deaths.

“The ban on legal possession of large-capacity magazines reasonably supports California’s effort to reduce the devastatin­g damage wrought by mass shootings,” Judge Susan P. Graber, a Clinton appointee, wrote for the court.

Two other gun control cases have been put on hold pending a decision in the magazine case. Tuesday’s decision indicates that California’s ban on assault weapons, which a lower court had struck down, is also likely to be ruled constituti­onal.

U.S. District Judge Judge Roger T. Benitez overturned both the magazine ban and the bar on assault weapons. In the assault weapons case, Benitez likened an AR-15 semiautoma­tic rifle to a Swiss Army knife and called it “good for both home and battle.”

Benitez, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said the assault weapons ban unconstitu­tionally infringed on the rights of California gun owners and “has had no effect” on curtailing mass shootings.

California’s ban on large-capacity magazines affects those that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

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