by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A federal judge yet again declared California’s ban on gun magazines unconstitutional Friday.
The ban was first instituted in a 2000 measure signed into law by then-Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, and prohibited state residents from buying or selling magazines that hold 10 or more rounds. U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez struck it down after previously striking it in 2019.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Benitez’s ruling in 2021, arguing that the ban fell in line with the state’s efforts to reduce gun violence and is compatible with the Second Amendment. Then, the Supreme Court vacated the appeals court ruling and ordered new proceedings consistent with the decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
Benitez cited the case in his decision because it clarified that gun control laws must be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” The judge claimed this magazine ban was not.
“The history and tradition of the Second Amendment clearly supports state laws against the use or misuse of firearms with unlawful intent, but not the disarmament of the law-abiding citizen,” Benitez wrote in his 71-page decision.
“I am going to immediately appeal to correct this dangerous decision,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We vow to fight to keep Californians safe from weapon enhancements that cause mass casualties.”
In 2017, Benitez blocked the law before his first ruling. Benitez previously served on the California Superior Court and was appointed to the Southern District of California by then-President George W. Bush in 2004.
California saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) office, with the children’s gun death rate being 58% lower than the national average. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the state’s gun death rate is the 44th lowest in the nation.