US Supreme Court orders reconsideration of California’s ban on gun magazines

Concealed Carry

After striking down restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in California and other states, the Supreme Court told an appeals court Thursday to reconsider the legality of California’s ban on gun magazines that can hold more than 10 cartridges.

The court’s order, in an appeal by an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, signaled the potentially broad impact of its June 23 ruling overturning laws that require gun owners to show a special need for self-defense in order to carry the weapons outside the home. In the 6-3 ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas said a state seeking to justify limits on gun ownership or possession must prove its law is “part of the historical tradition,” dating back as early as the colonial period.

California lawmakers banned the sale of guns with large-capacity magazines in 2000 and the purchase of them in 2013. Both those laws were declared unconstitutional in 2019 by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego, but remain in effect while under review by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thursday’s order involved a separate law, approved by the state’s voters in 2016, that prohibited possession of the magazines. Benitez blocked that law, in a suit by the NRA affiliate and five gun owners, but it was reinstated by the appeals court last November.

In the 7-4 ruling, Judge Susan Graber said the law “interferes only minimally with the core right of self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large-capacity magazine.”

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