The California Magazine Ban was Overturned: 11 Things To Know

April 4, 2019Neil Fotre
Ammunition and magazine background.

Ammunition and magazine background.

A federal district judge recently ruled against a law prohibited buying or selling magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This decision has spurred protests and controversy around the nation.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • California has had a high-capacity magazine ban in place since 2000, with a provision that grandfathered magazines purchased before then. In 2016, the state legislature passed a law removing that provision in order to complement California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s efforts to deter mass shootings and pass “common-sense gun laws.”

  • According to California crime statistics, there have been at least 15 mass-shooting events since 2000. The most recent mass shooting was in November 2018 at the Thousand Oaks Borderline Bar and Grill, where 13 people were killed.   

  • On March 29, San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez declared the law unconstitutional in an 86-page decision, citing, “Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts.”

  • Benitez ruled that California law “burdens the core of the Second Amendment by criminalizing the acquisition and possession of these magazines that are commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of self, home, and state.”

  • This recent ruling has concluded a roughly three-year battle between lawmakers, voters, and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

  • Beginning in 2016, a successful lawsuit was filed on behalf of the California branch of the NRA. Benitez agreed with the association’s position that banning high-capacity magazines was a violation of the Second Amendment. In a 2017 ruling, Benitez temporarily blocked the law from taking effect.

  • Benitez believes mass shootings are “exceedingly rare” and has also made remarks to infer that robberies, rapes, and murders could be countered with firearms.

  • Benitez’s ruling cited three cases of home invasion. Two cases involved female victims running out of ammunition while trying to defend themselves against an attacker. The third case involved a woman utilizing a high-capacity magazine to successfully defend herself against three armed attackers.

  • At least seven other states have laws prohibiting high-capacity magazines.

  • California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement saying that his office is reviewing the decision and is “committed to defending California’s common sense gun laws.”

  • If contested, this decision could ultimately be considered for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the time of this story, California residents, with respect to their ability to pass a background check as outlined in California Proposition 63, will be allowed to purchase and own high-capacity magazines.


Neil Fotre
Neil Fotre

Neil Fotre is a contributing writer for Coffee or Die, and former U.S. Army Armor Officer. He has served operational deployments in South Korea and Afghanistan. Neil earned a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He covers military and veteran community topics. His writing has been featured in the Military Times, Forbes, the Daily Beast, Task and Purpose and Business Insider. In between pounding his fingers on a keyboard, he is constantly glugging away on seltzer water and sipping on dark roast… pinky out.

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