SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned two lower court judges and upheld California’s ban on high-capacity magazines Tuesday in a divided decision that could be on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The statute prohibits no weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that may be used with firearms,” the judges ruled in the 7-4 decision.
The majority reasoned that “the record shows that the restriction interferes only minimally with the core right to self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone has ever been unable to defend their home and family due to the lack of a large capacity. magazine; and… that the restriction saves lives. “
A San Francisco-based court banc panel has acted after two out of three judges in a smaller 9-member panel last year ruled that the state’s ban on magazines with more than 10 bullets violates the U.S. Constitution’s protection of the right to bear firearms .
Gun owners’ rights groups have tried to get firearms cases before a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court and immediately promised to request the Supreme Court’s review.
Seven judges on the 9th Circuit Panel with 11 members were nominated by Democratic presidents, but the country’s Supreme Court tipped to the right with nominees by former President Donald Trump.
The panel of three judges had backed a 2017 decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, based in San Diego, that declared a state law that had banned the purchase or sale of such magazines since 2000 unconstitutional. That law prevented new sales or imports, but let those who had the magazines before then keep them.
That lower court ruling also prevented the state from enforcing a voter-approved law that would have prevented gun owners from possessing magazines with more than 10 bullets.
Aside from the impact on high-capacity magazine laws in California and other states, the ruling helps remove a roadblock in other pending cases of state bans on assault weapons.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading group seeking firearms restrictions, said state officials’ appeal of Benitez’s decision this year to drop California’s assault weapons restrictions was pending, while Ninth Circuit considered the ban on high-capacity magazines.
The decision on assault weapons has also been put on hold, while the Court of Appeal is considering the same issues in another case where another federal judge upheld the state’s 2018 ban.
Apart from the realities of each case, the Court of Appeal weighs the legal standard that the courts must consider in cases of second amendment. Gun owners’ groups are hoping the recently more conservative U.S. Supreme Court will change the legal tests in their favor.
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