Buried in a federal judge’s 86-page ruling late last Friday that declared California’s ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds unconstitutional is a devastating dissection of the failure of the state’s gun control efforts, and something of a rebuke to state Attorney General Xavier Becerra for having submitted “news articles and interest group surveys” to support his case, rather than police reports.
In the process, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez unintentionally demonstrated that elections matter. Judge Benitez was appointed to the federal court by former President George W. Bush in 2004. With his ruling, the judge provided several gems
Anti-gunners, including Becerra, have promised a fight. The ruling, which strikes down the state ban on so-called “high capacity magazines” as unconstitutional, will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court. It may be read here.
As recalled by Fox News, magazines holding more than 10 rounds have been banned in California since 2000. But Judge Benitez has ripped that ban to shreds by recounting several high-profile crimes since then that were not prevented by the ban. Here’s part of the judge’s observation, from Page 49:
“Mother Jones Magazine lists 98 mass shooting events in the last 36 years. This is an average of 2.72 events per year in the entire United States. Of the 98 events over the last 36 years, 17 took place in California. This is an average of one event every two years in the most populous state in the nation. According to data from this 36-year survey of mass shootings, California’s prohibition on magazines holding more than 10 rounds would have done nothing to keep a shooter from shooting more than 10 rounds. That is because normally the perpetrator brings multiple weapons. The more weapons, the greater the firepower and the greater the potential for casualties. In 14 of the 17 California mass shooting events, multiple weapons were brought. For example, in the 1988 mass shooting event in Sunnyvale, the shooter brought two pistols, two revolvers, two shotguns, and a bolt action rifle (all obtained legally). No large capacity magazines were used…”
Two pages later, Judge Benitez slams down on California’s lack of gun control success:
“To summarize, the 36-year survey of mass shootings by Mother Jones magazine put forth by the AG as evidence of the State’s need for § 32310, undercuts its own argument. The AG’s evidence demonstrates that mass shootings in California are rare, and its criminalization of large capacity magazine acquisition and possession has had no effect on reducing the number of shots a perpetrator can fire. The only effect of § 32310 is to make criminals of California’s 39 million law-abiding citizens who want to have ready for their self-defense a firearm with more than 10 rounds.”
Then, on Page 59, the judge essentially summed up the argument against magazine bans:
“No case has held that intermediate scrutiny would permit a state to impinge even slightly on the Second Amendment right by employing a known failed experiment. Congress tried for a decade the nationwide experiment of prohibiting large capacity magazines. It failed. California has continued the failed experiment for another decade and now suggests that it may continue to do so ad infinitum without demonstrating success. That makes no sense.”
Seven pages later, Judge Benitez takes a poke at arguments from the gun prohibition lobby that “weapons of war” should be banned from civilian ownership.
“That large capacity magazines are useful in military service, there is no doubt. But the fact that they may be useful, or even ‘most useful,’ for military purposes does not nullify their usefulness for law-abiding responsible citizens. It is the fact that they are commonly-possessed by these citizens for lawful purposes that places them directly beneath the umbrella of the Second Amendment.”
While Second Amendment activists have been celebrating through the weekend, the Benitez ruling may simply amount to the end of “Round 1.” California anti-gunners will zealously defend their restrictive gun control measures, and no doubt will get support from national gun prohibition lobbying groups and their attorneys. No doubt they will fight this case to the Supreme Court, and if they lose it will not surprise rights activists if they try to find some way to wiggle around it in order to continue clamping down on Second Amendment rights.