OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A federal judge ruled on Friday that the state of California’s ban on “high capacity” firearm magazines is a violation of the Constitution while also launching a fiery broadside against the state’s Democratic majority for imposing it in the first place.
On the same day, ironically, President Joe Biden called for reinstituting a ban on so-called “assault weapons” similar to one he helped pass as a U.S. senator during then-President Bill Clinton’s first term.
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California, a George W. Bush appointee, premised his decision on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. That ruling held that gun restrictions for video should be consistent with the text of the Second Amendment in a historical context.
“This case is about a California state law that makes it a crime to keep and bear common firearm magazines typically possessed for lawful purposes. Based on the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, this law is clearly unconstitutional,” Benitez wrote.
“The detachable firearm magazine solved a problem with historic firearms: running out of ammunition and having to slowly reload a gun,” the judge added. “When more ammunition is needed in case of confrontation, a larger … magazine is required. Many gun owners want to have ready more than 10 rounds in their guns.”
Benitez went on to note that magazines holding more than 10 rounds are exceedingly common, with some handguns holding up to 17 rounds while common rifle magazines hold 20 to 30 rounds.
“There is no American tradition of limiting ammunition capacity and the 10-round limit has no historical pedigree and it is arbitrary and capricious,” Benitez wrote.
The judge also rejected California’s argument that firearm magazines holding more than 10 rounds are not suitable for average citizens, while noting that firearms technology has changed significantly since the amendment was ratified in the 1780s.
“There are no cases where American government dictated that lever-action rifles were unsuitable because single shot rifles were good enough, or revolvers were unsuitable because derringers were good enough,” Benitez wrote.
“These choices have always belonged to the People to decide for themselves how much firepower they need. The right to have firearms for social security was important at the time the Constitution was adopted,” he added.
“Removable firearm magazines of all sizes are necessary components of semiautomatic firearms. Therefore, magazines come within the text of the constitutional declaration that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” he noted further.
Any restrictions like that, therefore, violate the Second Amendment, he noted.
“There is no American history or tradition of regulating firearms based on the number of rounds they can shoot, or of regulating the amount of ammunition that can be kept and carried,” the judge ruled.
“One government solution to a few mad men with guns is a law that makes into criminals responsible, law-abiding people wanting larger magazines simply to protect themselves,” Benitez argued.
“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,” he continued. “That kind of a solution is an infringement on the Constitutional right of citizens to keep and bear arms.”
On the same day, Biden announced the creation of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to be led by Vice President Kamala Harris.
“It’s time again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Biden said, adding, “If you need 80 shots in a magazine, you shouldn’t own a gun.”
The 1994 assault weapons ban limited magazines to 10 rounds.