In his decision, Benitez wrote, "This case is about a California state law that makes it a crime to keep and bear common firearm magazines typically possessed for lawful purposes." He ruled, "Based on the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, this law is clearly unconstitutional."
"The history and tradition of the Second Amendment clearly supports state laws against the use or misuse of firearms with unlawful intent, but not the disarmament of the law-abiding citizen," Benitez added.
The law was previously struck down by Benitez in March 2019, but his ruling was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2021. This time, Benitez was able to cite a June 2022 US Supreme Court ruling that set a new standard for how judges must rule on Second Amendment cases as part of New York State Rifle & Pistol Associaton v. Bruen.
In a statement, California Governor Gavin Newsom called the ruling a "radical decision." He noted that Benitez issued the ruling "on the same day President Biden announced his new Office of Gun Violence Prevention."
“Judge Benitez is not even pretending anymore. This is politics, pure and simple," Newsom claimed before pushing a constitutional amendment that he proposed in June.
In a press release, California Attorney General Rob Bonta vowed to appeal the decision back to the Ninth Circuit. He said, "We will continue to fight for our authority to keep Californians safe from weapon enhancements designed to cause mass casualties. In the meantime, if the Ninth Circuit stays the decision pending appeal, large-capacity magazines will remain unlawful for purchase, transfer, or possession in California."
"The Supreme Court was clear that Bruen did not create a regulatory straitjacket for states — and we believe that the district court got this wrong," Bonta continued. "We will move quickly to correct this incredibly dangerous mistake. We will not stop in our efforts to protect the safety of communities and Californians’ rights to go about their business without fear of becoming victims of gun violence, while at the same time respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
Should the state's ban become undone, lead plaintiff Virginia Duncan "would immediately acquire and continuously possess a magazine over 10 rounds within California for lawful purposes, including in-home self-defense," according to the complaint.
"Today’s rulings represent continued affirmation that the Bruen decision, and Heller before that, represent a sea change in the way courts must look at these absurdly restrictive laws" Virginia Duncan's attorney, Chuck Michel commented in reaction to the ruling. "Sure, the state has appealed, but the clock is ticking on laws that violate the Constitution like this one."
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