California’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines survives court challenge

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday upheld California’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, rejecting arguments that it violates Second Amendment rights.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state can ban magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds as a result of the “continuous threat of mass killing” posed by mass shooters.

The ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds has been in place since 2004, when lawmakers adopted a law that prohibits residents from possessing magazines “capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”

State officials said they were implementing the ban to reduce gun deaths and injuries.

“A wide variety of mass shooters have used high-capacity magazines, and many mass killers have successfully jammed or disabled the police rifle used by officers to interrupt mass shooting events,” California attorney general Xavier Becerra wrote.

But gun rights activists challenged the law, arguing that it constitutes a ban on the use of firearms entirely and a violation of the Second Amendment.

Writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, Chief Judge Sidney Thomas said the ban “would otherwise prohibit nearly all non-slug-loading ammunition magazines that capture enough rounds to support a single handgun.”

The ban is not specifically targeted at certain types of magazines such as those held by rifles, he wrote.

The Supreme Court has found that states may impose “reasonable restrictions” on the size of magazines. Thomas acknowledged that the ban “violates a constitutional right,” but nonetheless upheld the law on the grounds that it “is rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in mitigating the tragic tolls of mass violence.”

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