The governor hailed the 7-4 decision as a ‘victory for the health and safety’ of the state’s residents
A federal appeals court has upheld California’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, overturning a previous ruling from a lower court and handing a victory to gun control advocates.
In a 7-4 vote on Tuesday, the ninth circuit court of appeals ruled that limits on large-scale magazines do not violate second amendment rights nor notably limit the ability to defend oneself. The ruling supports the constitutionality of California laws that ban magazines holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition.
The ruling noted that weapons with high-capacity ammunition magazines have frequently been used to commit mass shootings.
“The ban on legal possession of large-capacity magazines reasonably supported California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings,” the majority opinion wrote.
The decision reverses a 2020 ruling that said California’s ban violated second amendment rights. Tuesday’s decision split along partisan lines, with the seven judges in the majority all Democratic presidential appointees and the dissenting judges all appointed by Republican presidents. The case could head to the supreme court, which has a conservative majority.
The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, hailed the decision as “victory for the health and safety of all Californians”.
“Weapons of war don’t belong on our streets,” Newsom tweeted after the ruling.
California’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, similarly touted the decision as a victory for gun control, calling gun violence “an epidemic in this country” and saying “laws like our ban on large-capacity magazines are commonsense ways to prevent this violence, including devastating mass shootings”.
Magazines that carry more than 10 bullets were temporarily outlawed under the federal assault weapons ban between 1994 and 2004. Since then several states have moved to enact their own bans after mass shootings, such as Colorado in the wake of the 2013 Aurora theater massacre.
Circuit Judge Susan Graber wrote for Tuesday’s majority that the ban was a “reasonable fit for the important government interest of reducing gun violence”, and interfered “only minimally” with the right to self-defense.
The court’s opinion on Tuesday included snipes between judges over the decision. Judge Lawrence VanDyke, a Donald Trump appointee, stated in his dissent that he believes “the majority of our court distrusts gun owners and thinks the second amendment is a vestigial organ of their living constitution.” Meanwhile, Judge Andrew D Hurwitz, a Barack Obama appointee, wrote that he felt “reluctantly compelled” to address VanDyke’s dissent.
“I recognize that colorful language captures the attention of pundits and partisans, and there is nothing wrong with using hyperbole to make a point,” Hurwitz wrote. “But my colleague has no basis for attacking the personal motives of his sisters and brothers on this court.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting