The extent of the ruling has not yet been determined.
California is one of the toughest states in the country when it comes to gun laws. It has led the nation in passing laws designed to keep its citizens safe — yet that many view as an infringement on their constitutional rights.
Since 2000, California has prohibited the buying and selling of high capacity magazines, defined as a magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds (a magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device that is either within or attached to a repeating firearm). This law contained a “grandfather” provision that allowed anyone who had a high capacity magazine before the law went into effect to keep them.
In 2016, the California Legislature and voters approved a law (Proposition 63 and Senate Bill 1446) that removed that grandfather provision. In other words, high capacity magazines would be illegal for everyone in California — regardless of when they were purchased.
Under California law, it is a criminal offense to manufacture, import, sell, give away, lend, buy, receive or possess large capacity magazines, with limited exceptions. According to a criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA, a violation of this law (with the exception of possession) is a wobbler offense, which means that it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. If charged as a felony, it is punishable by up to 3 years in county jail. If it is charged as a misdemeanor offense, the sentence may be up to 1 year in county jail. Possession of a large capacity magazine can be charged as either an infraction or a misdemeanor. As an infraction, it is punishable by a fine of up to $100 per magazine. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by a fine of up to $100 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 1 year.
After the passage of the 2016 law, the California branch of the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed a lawsuit against the state. In 2017, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect. In late March 2019, the same judge ruled that the ban was unconstitutional, finding that magazines holding more than 10 rounds are “arms” within the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. According to the Court, the California law violates the Constitution by making it a crime to acquire and possess magazines that are commonly used by law-abiding citizens for “defense of self, home, and state.”
The NRA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) celebrated this decision, which was viewed as a potentially far-reaching victory for gun owners. Depending on how the decision was interpreted, it may be read to strike the high capacity ban completely — and not just the 2016 provision that eliminated the grandfather aspect. Yet in early April, the state appealed the decision, and the judge issued a stay on the decision. As a result, high capacity magazines will once again be illegal until a final judgment is issued in the matter.
Given the frequently changing law regarding the possession of high capacity magazines in California, if you own or plan to purchase this type of weaponry, you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA to determine the current state of the law. A skilled attorney can also advice you about what to do if asked by law enforcement about your gun or high capacity magazine during this time.
At the Chambers Law Firm, we are committed to staying on top of the latest developments in California law so that we can better serve you. We represent clients who have been charged with a range of criminal offenses. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA.