Gun-law rulings by a controversial federal judge based in San Diego are likely both to be overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, setting up the potential for more Second Amendment fights at the Supreme Court.
The Ninth Circuit on Tuesday issued a ruling that reverses one made by a three-judge panel at the court last year which upheld a 2017 decision by San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez that declared a 20-year-old California law banning high-capacity magazines unconstitutional. Benitez is the same Republican appointee to the federal bench who in June ruled that California's ban on assault-style weapons is unconstitutional — notably writing in his decision, "Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment." Also, insanely, he wrote, "More people have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California."
As the Associated Press reports, an 11-member en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit took up the case after a 2-1 judgement by a three-judge panel earlier this year supported Benitez's original ruling.
The seven-judge majority on Tuesday said "The [California] statute outlaws no weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that may be used with firearms," and therefore it was not in violation of the Second Amendment. Further, they write, "the record demonstrates that the limitation interferes only minimally with the core right of self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large-capacity magazine; and … that the limitation saves lives."
Gun-rights advocates will now scramble to try to get this case before the conservative-majority Supreme Court, which they hope will kill California's high-capacity magazine ban once and for all.
And, as the Associated Press explains, this latest ruling now clears the deck for the Ninth Circuit to rule on the appeal of Benitez's June decision about the assault-weapons ban.
That decision was widely denounced by gun-control advocates and Governor Gavin Newsom.
"Judge Benitez's decision displays a shocking misunderstanding of assault weapons and legal precedent and reads more like an NRA press release than a judicial ruling," said Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America, per CNN. "Judge Benitez should spend more time learning about the impacts of gun violence on American communities and less trying to own the libs."
Photo: Will Porada