By Jeff Knox : Opinion
Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- A federal judge has granted a temporary injunction halting enforcement of California's new law which criminalizes possession of any “large-capacity” magazine, defined as any magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
The law, which was approved by voters as part of a massive gun control initiative last year, was due to go into effect on July 1 2017, but a group of California gun owners led by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the state's NRA affiliate, filed suit in federal court in May challenging the law for violating rights guaranteed under the Second and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. The preliminary injunction does not nullify the law, but prevents it from being enforced while the case works its way through the courts.
So called “large-capacity” magazines have been banned from sale or transfer in California since 2000, but people who already owned them were able to legally keep them.
Under the new law, current owners of the magazines would be required to get rid of them, either by selling them to a licensed dealer, taking them out of state, destroying them, or turning them over to law enforcement without compensation. Once the law takes effect, anyone in possession of a magazine capable of holding over 10 rounds in the state would be a criminal, subject to fines and up to a year in jail.
This is exactly the sort of confiscation law that rights advocates have been warning about for decades. As we at The Firearms Coalition have repeatedly said, the long-term objective of the Brady's, Bloombergs, Feinsteins, and Schumers is the criminalization and confiscation of all privately held firearms. All of the “minor,” “reasonable,” and “common sense” laws that they manage to push through here and there are merely incremental steps toward that goal.
They are never satisfied, and they will always come back for another bite at the apple.
The fact that gun control does not, cannot, and will never reduce crime actually plays to their objectives, because once they have a law on the books, and people have become accustomed to it, they are able to come back with the same arguments and statistics on “gun violence,” and claim that another more restrictive law is needed.
We've seen this strategy play out in England and Australia, and closer to home in New York, New Jersey, and California.
So the good news is that thousands of Californians didn't suddenly turn into criminals on July first. The bad news is that the injunction can be appealed to the 9th Circuit court of Appeals, and probably will be. Without the injunction, the state can start enforcing the law, even while the case is being litigated – which could take years. So even if the Constitution wins out in the end, the damage will have been done, and is irreversible under existing law. As noted California has banned sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of these magazines since 2000. Once a citizen divests himself of a magazine that was possessed before that ban, there is no legal way to replace it.
The judge who issued the injunction, Roger Benitez, is something of an anomaly in California. Born in Cuba, Benitez's family immigrated to the U.S. when he was young. They settled in California where he went into private practice after law school, and eventually served as a judge in the Superior Court of California before being appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush. His 66-page injunction is an amazing read, full of pros and quotes to delight any lover of liberty. His wit and dry sense of humor are sprinkled throughout, tearing down the straw arguments of the statists, and pulling from the best of previous opinions and dissents. Taking a few minutes to read the full work would be time well spent. For a quick synopsis of the ruling, check out Adam Kraut's short video on YouTube.
Unfortunately, we have been here before.
We've seen wonderful opinions from noble jurists in California and elsewhere, quoting the Constitution, the founders, and Supreme Court precedent, and delivering crushing blows to inane gun control schemes. Then we've seen their brilliant logic and unassailable reason swept aside by appeals court judges who are willing to bend the law, history, and rational thought into a pretzel to serve their own agenda, and the outrageous decisions have been allowed to stand when the Supreme Court simply shrugged its collective shoulders and refused to even give the case a hearing, as we saw once again recently when the Peruta case was denied certiorari. That heartbreaking case, like this one, was handled by attorney Chuck Michel. It was good to see him win this temporary victory after the crushing disappointment of having Peruta turned down by SCOTUS, but the celebration must be short, because there are more battles ahead.
We will certainly be hearing more about this case, known as Duncan v. Becerra, in the near future. Whether Mr. Becerra, California's new Attorney General, appeals the injunction or not, this case will most certainly land on the bench of the ever-creative 9th Circuit, and from there, it will almost certainly be petitioned to the Supreme Court. In the end, the fate of this law will depend on the makeup of the Court at the time the petition arrives, which could be two or three years from now.
No one knows how long any of this will take, but hopefully the people of California will be able to hold onto their magazines while the courts and lawyers are doing their dance. If not, maybe we can arrange for some storage space in Arizona and Nevada border towns to safely stockpile the constitutionally protected property while they are awaiting a final resolution, or perhaps we'll see mass refusal to comply.
Whatever happens, we'll keep you posted.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.