If the government says you don’t need a gun, then you need a gun…

On June 22, 2021, oral arguments were heard by an en-banc panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Duncan v. Bonta (formerly Becerra), the case that challenges California’s ban on “high” (standard) capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The panel, which consisted of 11 judges was heavily weighted in favor of the government.  Seven were appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama, both of whom had strong anti-2nd Amendment credentials.  The remaining 4 were appointed by Presidents G.W. Bush and Trump.

Within minutes of opening arguments, Samuel Siegel, California’s deputy solicitor general made a host of untrue and vague statements.  They included arbitrary assertions that there’s no evidence citizens prefer higher capacity magazines (this pure supposition) and that gun owners “rarely” use more than 10 rounds for self-defense.  He also charged that the ban is only a “minimal” burden on gun owners and does not diminish an individual’s right to protect themselves.  This was accurately rebuked by Trump appointee Judge Lawrence Van Dyke when he stated specific situations that would, indeed, merit the use of more than 10 rounds. Assertions that “large” capacity magazines are a menace to law enforcement and are responsible for deadly mass shootings were countered by Plaintiff’s counsel Erin Murphy that evidence does not bear this out. In fact, according to the FBI’s 2020 Statistics on Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty, the data only specifies whether the gun is a handgun, rifle or shotgun – there is no mention of whether the firearm had a capacity of over 10 rounds.

The state also made arguments that there were ways around the magazine restriction, suggesting that Californians carry multiple guns and/or magazines.  Using the claim that changing magazines could sometimes permit people under fire to escape a shooter doesn’t hold water given the flip side of this theory:  what’s to prevent a private citizen from being overtaken by someone attempting to do them harm during the course of grabbing another magazine or gun? This, too is a specious argument.

…if the government says you don’t need a gun, then you need a gun.”
~ GOC Amicus Brief

Historical facts were up for grabs during oral arguments as well.  The widespread claim that magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition are a recent phenomenon is unequivocally wrong.  Murphy skillfully outlined the historical existence of large capacity magazines, noting that the popular Winchester Model 1866 rifle had a 17-round capacity.  The argument that the Constitutional protections of the 2nd Amendment do not cover firearms with high-cap magazines is dispelled by the fact that this gun was extremely popular during such time that the 14th Amendment was being ratified in 1868.

GOC has supported this legal challenge in the form of an amicus (friend of the court) brief, which makes the following arguments [in part]:

  • …“Heller set the record straight, ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual right that “belongs to all Americans…”
  • …Indeed, the gun-owning public increasingly understands that the two-step inquiry is a legal charade, carefully crafted solely for the purpose of circumventing the Second Amendment’s text and the Supreme Court’s Heller and McDonald decisions … As the district court noted, “Constitutional rights stand through time holding fast through the ebb and flow of current controversy.” The court explained that the rights protected by the Second Amendment are not to be trimmed away as unnecessary because today’s litigation happens during the best of times.”
  • paradoxically, it is often the case that the more important the government believes it is to infringe Americans’ rights, the more important it is to protect those rights. In other words, “if the government says you don’t need a gun, then you need a gun.”

Tor read the full brief, click HERE.

For every en banc panel, the Court randomly draws 10 judges to join the Chief Judge. Realistically speaking, the chances of a positive ruling given the makeup of this panel is pretty slim.  Any decision upholding the ban on high/standard capacity magazines would then initiate an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.  Rest assured that GOC will continue to support the efforts of the chief Plaintiff, the California Rifle and Pistol Association as this case moves forward.

You can help GOC in this regard by contributing to our efforts HERE.