AR-15 assault rifle with magazines
An AR-15 assault rifle with magazines of different capacities. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

California’s law banning gun magazines that hold more than 10 bullets was declared unconstitutional Friday by a federal judge in San Diego.

U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled that the California law violated the 2nd Amendment rights of gun owners and issued an injunction barring state officials from enforcing it.

Benitez concluded that the state law effectively made criminals out of ordinary citizens and was an overreaction to high-profile gun crimes, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“Bad political ideas cannot be stopped by criminalizing bad political speech,” wrote Benitez, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

“Crime waves cannot be broken with warrantless searches and unreasonable seizures. Neither can the government response to a few mad men with guns and ammunition be a law that turns millions of responsible, law-abiding people trying to protect themselves into criminals. Yet, this is the effect of California’s large-capacity magazine law.”

Benitez had issued a preliminary injunction in 2017 stopping enforcement of the law. The injunction was upheld in July by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The executive director of the National Rifle Association‘s political and lobbying arm called Friday’s ruling a “huge win for gun owners” and a “landmark recognition of what courts have too often treated as a disfavored right.”

“Judge Benitez took the Second Amendment seriously and came to the conclusion required by the Constitution,” said Chris W. Cox of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.

“The same should be true of any court analyzing a ban on a class of arms law-abiding Americans commonly possess for self-defense or other lawful purposes.”

State Sen. Scott Wiener called the ruling a “ridiculous interpretation of the Second Amendment.”

“Nothing in the Constitution creates a ‘right’ to buy high capacity magazines, whose only purpose is to commit mass murder,” tweeted Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat. He pledged to support an appeal of the ruling.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.