A federal judge has temporarily blocked a voter-approved California law that would have forced gun owners to get rid of high-capacity ammunition magazines by this Saturday.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, who is based in San Diego, issued a preliminary injunction Thursday that found the law was likely unconstitutional because it prevented people from using firearms that employed “whatever common magazine size he or she judges best suits the situation.” The law would have barred people from possessing magazines containing more than 10 bullets.
“The State of California’s desire to criminalize simple possession of a firearm magazine able to hold more than 10 rounds is precisely the type of policy choice that the Constitution takes off the table,” the injunction read.
Benitez added that “a final decision will take too long to offer relief, and because the statute will soon visit irrevocable harm on Plaintiffs and all those similarly situated a state-wide preliminary injunction is necessary and justified to maintain the status quo.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The judge granted the request of attorneys from the National Rifle Association-affiliated California Rifle & Pistol Association to temporarily block the law.
In the days leading up to the ban, some California gun owners, pro-gun sheriffs and sellers have been reluctant to give up their magazines. Some gun owners have previously said that they were hoping pending court challenges would block the ban.
“We’re not going to be knocking on anybody’s door looking for them,” said Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko in an earlier interview with The Bee. “We’re essentially making law-abiding citizens into criminals with this new law.”
The ban is part of Proposition 63, approved with 63 percent of votes in November, that required background checks for people buying ammunition and instituted other firearms restrictions.
In a statement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that the proposition aims to prevent further mass shootings by those who own high-capacity magazines.
“Proposition 63 was overwhelmingly approved by voters to increase public safety and enhance security in a sensible and constitutional way,” Becerra said in the statement. “Restricting large capacity magazines and preventing them from ending up in the wrong hands is critical for the well-being of our communities.”
To get rid of magazines in compliance with the approved law, California gun owners would have been allowed to move them out of state, sell them to a licensed dealer, destroy them or hand them over to law enforcement.