Since this is April Fool’s Day, I seriously considered not having a feature.
That’s no joke- and neither is a question I’ll raise, but not presume to answer.
On Friday, a Federal District Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled that California’s law banning magazines that hold more than ten rounds was unconstitutional. He then issued an injunction barring state officials from enforcing said statute (Ca Penal Code 32310 (a)).
In Judge Benitez’s opinion, the law was an overreaction to high-profile gun crimes that made criminals out of ordinary citizens. Or, as he wrote, “Crime waves cannot be broken with warrantless searches and unreasonable seizures. Neither can the government response to a few mad men with guns and ammunition be a law that turns millions of responsible, law-abiding people trying to protect themselves into criminals.”
“Yet,” he concluded, “this is the effect of California’s large-capacity magazine law.”
Benitez issued a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement in 2017. It was upheld in July by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
It’s a solid ruling, and should be celebrated as one badly needed example of a judge who read the law, compared it to the Constitution of the United States, and concluded- reasonably- that legislative overcompensation did nothing to stop crime or crazies.
As you can imagine, California legislators, like Sen. Scott Wiener, went off the deep end (again). Weiner called the ruling “a ridiculous interpretation of the Second Amendment,” and said he would pledge to support an appeal of the ruling.
OK, that’s his right. In the meantime, California residents in possession of “high capacity magazines” (and we know there are more than a few) have not been turned into “instant felons” by a legislature that has become known for criminalizing “normal” and legalizing “outrageous.”
But while it may be legal, would it be prudent for a California gun owner to instantly start ordering higher capacity magazines?
I’d think not. But at least one online outlets is offering anything from +5 base pads for Glock 9mm pistol magazines to 50-round drum magazines for AR-style rifles to California residents.
Granted, they’re using a gigantic disclaimer: “We will ship magazines (any capacity) to our California customers, UNTIL THERE IS ANOTHER ORDER STATING OTHERWISE FROM A FEDERAL JUDGE. This could change as early as next week!”
For the record, I hope there isn’t another decision that reverses Judge Benitez’s ruling. I think the only reasonable limits on magazine capacity should be reliability and your ability to carry it.
But the Ninth Circuit Court isn’t called the “nutty 9th” by legal scholars because of a predisposition to follow the law. It has slipped and slid around precedent like a rat through a maze when it has sought to “re-interpret” the law.
And there’s no guarantee that the retailer’s admonition that “This could change as early as next week” isn’t correct. The 9th Circuit, when challenged, has more often than not chosen to double down rather than capitulate to reasoned rulings that disagree with their liberal outlook.
So the magazine capacity issue would seem to still be one that’s unclear- and one that will remain unclear until the Supreme Court is (eventually) forced to rule on the matter.
A retailer’s ability to quickly react to what might be a great marketing opportunity is worth recognizing. But if I lived in California, I’d have reservations about plunking down money for something I still might have to either surrender - or destroy - in the future.
The only thing constant in California is a shifting set of rules - especially for law-abiding gun owners.
We’ll keep you posted.