Judge Shoots Down Restrictive California Gun Law

Last week U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez struck down a California law that banned high-capacity rifle magazines. Judge Benitez ruled unconstitutional the 2016 ballot measure Proposition 63, which outlawed magazines of more than 10 rounds capacity. The measure also mandated background checks for purchases of ammunition and the confiscation of guns from those prohibited from owning them.

The Cuban-born Benitez, an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote that “Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts.” California’s law, according to the judge, “turns millions of responsible, law-abiding people trying to protect themselves into criminals,” and Benitez cited examples of citizens who ran out of ammunition defending themselves against home invasions by violent criminals. Benitez also characterized the Second Amendment as a “check on tyranny,” first implemented by those who “cherished individual freedom more than the subservient security of a British ruler.” In other cases, the disarming of the people has preceded tyranny.

As Stephen P. Halbrook showed in Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State,” the German National Socialist regime ruthlessly suppressed firearm ownership. In Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, Halbrook shows how the National Socialists disarmed a captive population in their own country, which enabled brutal repression and atrocities.

California governor Gavin Newsom blasted the ruling by Judge Benitez as “indefensible,” and called the magazine ban a “common sense” measure. Last year Newsom pledged to “raise the bar” on gun control when he took over as governor. On the other hand, the governor has lowered the bar for the state’s worst violent criminals.

In 2016, Californians approved Proposition 66, which speeded up the process for executions and rejected Proposition 62, which would have eliminated the death penalty. On March 13, 2019, the California governor signed an executive order granting a reprieve to all 737 convicted murderers on death row and halted executions in the Golden State.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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