SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego federal judge Friday blocked California's ban on gun magazines that hold more than 10 bullets for the second time in recent years.
In a ruling stemming from a lawsuit filed by firearm advocates, U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez struck down the law in 2017, ruling it unconstitutional.
Subsequent appeals resulted in differing decisions among judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the case went before the U.S. Supreme Court, which sent it back to the lower courts last year for reconsideration.
Benitez again ruled in favor of the gun owners in a written ruling issued Friday, which read, "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's order includes a 10-day stay of the injunction at the California Attorney General's Office's request, so a stay can be sought from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a statement, California Attorney General Rob Bonta called the ruling an "incredibly dangerous mistake" that his office would appeal.
"In the past half-century, large-capacity magazines have been used in about three-quarters of gun massacres with 10 or more deaths and in 100% of gun massacres with 20 or more deaths," Bonta said. "We will continue to fight for our authority to keep Californians safe from weapon enhancements designed to cause mass casualties."
The judge's latest ruling followed a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a New York case that held judges should ensure firearm restrictions are consistent with "the nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation."
In Friday's ruling, Benitez wrote, "Because millions of removable firearm magazines able to hold between 10 and 30 rounds are commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, including self-defense, and because they are reasonably related to service in the militia, the magazines are presumptively within the protection of the Second Amendment. 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 case is one of several in which Benitez has ruled in favor of firearm advocates seeking to overturn state laws governing guns and ammunition, including California's assault weapon ban and its law requiring background checks for ammo purchases. Those decisions led Gov. Gavin Newsom to publicly describe Benitez as "a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association."
In a statement issued following Friday's ruling, Newsom said, "Judge Benitez is not even pretending anymore. This is politics, pure and simple. It's time to wake up. Unless we enshrine a Right to Safety in the Constitution, we are at the mercy of ideologues like Judge Benitez. All of our gun safety laws that are proven to save lives are at risk. It doesn't matter what laws we pass. It doesn't matter what the voters decide. Concealed carry. Banning weapons of war. Reasonable waiting periods. Background checks. The idealogues are coming for all of them."
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