On April 2, NRA and California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) attorneys filed an opposition to California’s request seeking an immediate stay of enforcement in the case of Duncan v. Becerra, which found California’s restrictions against so called “large-capacity” magazines unconstitutional and unenforceable. According to an NRA release, “The decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California is a tremendous victory for gun owners in California, striking down California’s restrictions against the manufacture, importation, sale, transfer, receipt, and possession of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds….”
Unsurprisingly, DOJ filed a request for a stay of judgment. As noted in DOJ’s motion: “To effectively preserve the status quo, and to prevent a sudden influx of large capacity magazines (LCMs) into the State of California (the ‘State’), Defendant respectfully requests that the Court issue an immediate, temporary stay pending its ruling on the application for a stay pending appeal. Even if this Court, or the Ninth Circuit, ultimately issues a stay pending appeal, the State will suffer irreparable injury if LCMs are permitted to flow into the State in the interim. Defendant respectfully requests that such a temporary stay be issued by no later than April 2, 2019.”
As I write this in early April, here’s how this latest development affects California gunowners, according to NRA-ILA. The California Rifle & Pistol Association, with support from the National Rifle Association, filed the lawsuit that overturned the magazine ban.
The March 29, 2019, ruling puts in place an injunction (an order to refrain from performing a certain act) prohibiting enforcement of California Penal Code section 32310, which criminalizes the manufacture, importation, transfer (including giving and loaning), acquisition, and possession of a “large capacity magazine” (“LCM”), defined as an ammunition-feeding device capable of accepting more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The injunction prohibiting enforcement of the LCM restrictions ordered by the court took effect the minute it was issued on March 29.
Effect: The ruling means shooters can now acquire new magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds in California.
However, there are risks to consider. For example, should an individual order “large capacity” magazines from an online distributor, and during the shipping process a subsequent order from a court stays the enforcement of the injunction, subdivision (a) of Penal Code Section 32310 will once again be in effect — including the “receiving” of any “large-capacity” magazine. Thus, the delivery of an order after the injunction has been stayed will arguably be in violation of Penal Code Section 32310, exposing you to misdemeanor or felony charges.
Also, it’s worth noting the ban on possessing an LCM has been unenforceable since June 29, 2017, when this same court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from taking effect while the parties litigated the merits of the case. And because CA DOJ is seeking a stay only as to the provisions allowing for acquisition of new LCMs, the injunction against the possession restriction should remain in effect for the time being. That said, people should stay tuned to legal alerts to be updated of any changes. Also, lawfully acquired LCMs can be lawfully used.
BEWARE: The ruling does NOT mean you can use an LCM in a semiautomatic, centerfire rifle with a “fixed magazine,” e.g., an AR-platform rifle with a device affixed to only allow removal of the magazine when the upper is separated from the lower, or similar device, that is designed to avoid “assault weapon” designation.
To read the briefs for yourself, a copy of the order granting the permanent injunction can be viewed on the Michel & Associateswebsite. Search for “Duncan” on the site to see the litigation record.
If you live in California, the new gold rush — a “mag rush” — is on. Magpul began shipping standard-capacity magazines (30 rounds) on April 3. Brownells is offering a substantial discount on 10-packs of 30-round magazines. Elite Tactical Components, Natchez Shooters Supplies, Wilson Combat, and other magazine makers also announced they would be shipping LCMs to California — legally — while the ban is no longer in effect. That could change any day. Get yours while the getting is good.