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San Diego Judge Blocks California's High-Capacity Ammunition Ban

April 1, 2019 1:28 p.m.

GUEST: Bianca Bruno, reporter, Courthouse News Service

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Related Story: San Diego Judge Blocks California's High-Capacity Ammunition Ban


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Citing the use of guns for protection in three home break ins. A federal judge in San Diego has thrown out the state's high capacity ammunition ban. The law which has been blocked from going into effect since 2017 would ban possession of magazines holding more than 10 bullets. California voters approved the ban in an effort to prevent mass shootings in which dozens of rounds of bullets are fired without the need to reload in his ruling. Judge Roger Beneatha's called mass shootings, quote, exceedingly rare. Joining me is Bianca Bruno of courthouse new service. Bianca, welcome. Thank you. In his ruling, judge buddied has talks about three women who tried to defend themselves against home invasions, but apparently a couple of them ran out of bullets. So judgment. He has released an order on Friday afternoon and favor of Virginia Dunkin and the California rifle and pistol association. Basically finding that prop 63 passed by voters was unconstitutional and the judge has cited throughout his ruling Friday and in court hearings last year.

Speaker 1: 01:08 The need, especially in his view for women to be able to protect themselves in the home by having access to firearms. The three women case studies, he cited Friday, we're actually not in California though I believe they were in Florida and Georgia and last year he even suggested that if someone were trying to defend themselves, if they ran out of bullets by not having access to a high capacity magazine, they essentially end up raped and dead. So Benita states very clearly in his ruling several times his belief that the police probably can't protect citizens in their homes. Is that right? Sure. So he said that basically a core of the second amendment is the right to be able to defend yourself in the home. So you know, he noted police can't protect everyone, they can't provide you with bodyguards. He cited the thousands of robberies and home invasions and other crimes that happen in homes in California.

Speaker 1: 02:07 And in 2017 is basically a reason that the government cannot limit your access to be able to protect yourself and protect your home. Explain how the judge links the Second Amendment right to bear arms with the need for high capacity ammunition. He said that, well the attorney general, and actually it was governor Gavin Newsom introduced prop 63 when he was lieutenant governor, that their goal of preventing mass shootings, while laudable is not a reason that the government can essentially what he says is disarm people basically in the spirit of protecting citizens. That taking away high capacity magazines as a solution to prevent mass shootings is not the appropriate answer for that. And basically he says the second amendment really doesn't apply if you have a without ammunition. Sure. So at one point and the order, he suggested that, you know, who's to say what is a safe capacity magazines.

Speaker 1: 03:09 So you know, at this point California said more than 10 is unsafe. It's widely used in mass shootings. But he kind of suggested that could be a slippery slope where you know, eventually the state might say that you can only have a gun with one round to protect herself. The NRA and gun rights supporters are praising this decision. They say it may be far reaching. What do they mean by that? So they're alluding to another law. California passed in 2000 which preempted prop 63 it made it so that you could no longer purchase the rounds with 10 or more magazines, but it did not make it illegal to own the magazines. So people who were already in possession could still own them. Prop 63 made it so that they were supposed to give up those magazines. So I think they're hoping the NRA and gun rights activists are hoping that this ruling will undo that original law. And here's Chuck Michel. He's president of the California rifle and Pistol Association speaking on the podcast. Tom Gresham's gun talk, expressing the desire that this ruling is expanded.

Speaker 2: 04:23 We'll go in and ask the court to amend the judgment and make it clear that it does cover the acquisition so you can possess an acquire magazines.

Speaker 1: 04:34 Judge Beneatha's has been criticized by many, including Governor Newsome, about this opinion that mass shootings are rare. What did the judge say about that? Is Order is very insistent that you have the right to protect your home with a firearm. So he kind of goes back to that idea throughout the order that those crimes in the home where someone might be robbed at gunpoint or something like that are way more frequent than a mass shooting, but they don't get the same media attention that the mass shootings does. Does judge Beneatha's in this ruling say raising the restriction from 10 rounds to a higher number of bullets would pass the constitutional test or does he indicate no restriction on ammunition would be allowable? Well, he sort of suggests that the problem that he found with whether prop 63 is constitutional or not is that the law doesn't specify what activities may be criminal in owning a high capacity magazine with more than 10 rounds, he's insistent on being able to protect yourself at home, but that, you know, if someone were walking down the street with a hundred round magazine and pacing a school or a theater, that that probably wouldn't pass constitutional muster.

Speaker 1: 05:47 Where does this case go from here? The attorney general last week didn't say exactly what they plan to do and they kind of just said that their office is evaluating the next steps, the case. Those next steps are probably going to include appealing again to the ninth circuit, but keep in mind, the ninth circuit has found in favor of judge Meninas as prior orders. In this case, they're likely to do that again. We'll probably end up in the supreme court eventually. I've been speaking with courthouse news service reporter Bianca Bruno. Bianca, thank you. Thanks so much.

Speaker 3: 06:24 Okay.