California, like Canada, despises standard capacity firearm magazines and defines any magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds as over capacity or large capacity.
California, unlike Canada, must abide by this pesky little thing called the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 63, the Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative which, among other things, banned all firearm magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Two days before the ban was to take effect, Judge Roger Benitez ordered the injunction because Proposition 63’s magazine ban “burdens the core of the Second Amendment by criminalizing the mere possession of these magazines that are commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of self, home, and state.”
On July 1, 2017, any previously law-abiding person in California who still possesses a firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds will begin their new life of crime. With this change, § 32310(c) requires persons who lawfully possess these magazines today to dispossess them or face criminal penalties of up to one year in a county jail and a fine of $100 per magazine, or both.
Magazines holding more than 10 rounds are “arms.” California Penal Code Section 32310, as amended by Proposition 63, burdens the core of the Second Amendment by criminalizing the mere possession of these magazines that are commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of self, home, and state.
The regulation is neither presumptively legal nor longstanding. The statute hits close to the core of the Second Amendment and is more than a slight burden. When the simple test of Heller is applied, a test that persons of common intelligence can understand, the statute is adjudged an unconstitutional abridgment.
On August 14, 2020, California lost its appeal of Judge Roger Benitez’ injunction.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in their 81-page decision, ruled:
- First, the panel held that firearm magazines are protected arms under the Second Amendment.
- Second, the panel held that LCMs [large capacity magazines] are commonly owned and typically used for lawful purposes, and are not “unusual arms” that would fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment.
- Third, the panel held that LCM prohibitions are not longstanding regulations and do not enjoy a presumption of lawfulness.
- Fourth, the panel held that there was no persuasive historical evidence in the record showing LCM possession fell outside the ambit of Second Amendment protection.
From the decision:
In the wake of heart-wrenching and highly publicized mass shootings, the state of California barred its citizens from owning so-called “large capacity magazines” (LCMs) that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. But even well-intentioned laws must pass constitutional muster.
California’s near-categorical ban of LCMs strikes at the core of the Second Amendment — the right to armed self-defense.
Armed self-defense is a fundamental right rooted in tradition and the text of the Second Amendment. Indeed, from pre-colonial times to today’s post-modern era, the right to defend hearth and home has remained paramount.
California’s law imposes a substantial burden on this right to self-defense. The ban makes it criminal for Californians to own magazines that come standard in Glocks, Berettas, and other handguns that are staples of selfdefense.
Its scope is so sweeping that half of all magazines in America are now unlawful to own in California. Even law-abiding citizens, regardless of their training and track record, must alter or turn over to the state any LCMs that they may have legally owned for years — or face up to a year in jail.