California Residents Get Reprieve on Magazine Law

Applies to magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds

10 Round Magazines Illegal in California

One of California’s new gun laws passed last year requires gun owners with magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition to get rid of them by July 1. That deadline passed on Saturday. But a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect, at least temporarily.

The National Rifle Association got involved, and their attorneys requested the temporary injunction, which was approved on Thursday last week. U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez issued the injunction.

Without the injunction, as of Saturday, any gun owners who were still in possession of these magazines would have been breaking the law. Violators face potential jail time if they’re caught. The question is, how many of California’s gun owners will actually get rid of them? And there’s another question…no one is sure just how many large-capacity magazines there actually are in people’s possession, because they’ve never been required to be tracked or registered.

We know that a lot of gun owners aren’t going to willingly just hand over or throw out their property over this. A sheriff in Redding made a joke that gun owners were lining up around the block to turn over their magazines. In reality, no one has turned any in. There’s no repayment process for those who turn in the magazines to get their money back. And, there’s also no way to track when someone gives them up.

Sheriff Tom Bosenko says his office is not going to start aggressively hunting out large capacity magazines just yet.

In California, a law passed in 2000 banned the sale of high-capacity detachable magazines. It was still legal to possess them though, after that, except in certain cities that passed their own local bans (San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sunnyvale). This past fall, voters and lawmakers passed the gun-control initiative Proposition 63, that now require the magazines capable of holding more than 10 round to be illegal to posses.

Ari Freilich, a staff attorney for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, one the backers of  that California voters passed last fall, said about large-capacity magazines: “They do not have legitimate self-defense value.”

A lawyer named Chuck Michel who has filed a lawsuit to challenge the ban, says the opposite view: “The reason for the popularity of these magazines is straightforward: In a confrontation with a violent attacker, having enough ammunition can be the difference between life and death,” he wrote. “Banning magazines over ten rounds is no more likely to reduce criminal abuse of guns than banning high horsepower engines is likely to reduce criminal abuse of automobiles.”

California gun owners are allowed to get rid of their magazines by moving them out of state, turning them into law enforcement, selling them to a licensed dealer or destroying them by July 1. Some gun shops also are offering to permanently modify magazines to make them legal.

The article wraps up by saying, “Even the staunchest pro-gun sheriffs, including Bosenko, the Shasta County sheriff, say they’ll be more than happy to tack a magazine-possession charge on to a drug dealer’s or a gang member’s rap sheet should deputies catch them with a high-capacity magazine.”

That’s all well and good, but we know that this wide net is going to snare many otherwise responsible and law-abiding gun owners too. Hopefully the injunction and the NRA involvement will get people’s head on straight. Even if the law does eventually pass, it might take months to get to that point.

Image from ETS Group