By J. D. Heyes
Well,Â thatÂ didnâ€™t last long.
After a federal judgeÂ ruled last weekÂ that Californiaâ€™s ban on â€œhigh-capacityâ€ firearms magazines was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendmentâ€™s â€˜infringementâ€™ clause, he has now reversed his earlier reversal.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of the Ninth Circuit initially ruled in favor of plaintiffs who sued California over its ban against magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. InÂ his ruling, Benitez wrote, â€œIndividual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts.â€ He further quoted one of the Democratic Leftâ€™s giants, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who said during Judge Robert Borkâ€™s confirmation hearing, â€œThe Judiciary is â€“ and is often the only â€“ protector of individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.â€
Mind you, America wasnâ€™t founded as a â€œdemocracy,â€ our country was founded as a representative republic â€“ and thatâ€™s not just semantics. Terms matter here because the meaning of them, and the constitutional jurisprudence behind them, matter.
We believed that Benitez was spot-on in his first ruling, which resulted in a permanent injunction against the Golden State. But heâ€™s now reversed that ruling after hearing from the California Department of Justice in an emergency capacity, which sought to have Benitezâ€™s initial stay against enforcement of the ban lifted while the case remained on appeal.
AndÂ thatâ€™s what he did.
Following Benitezâ€™s initial stay of the California ban in late March, companies that make 30-round magazines experienced massive sales increases, which is what led state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to file an emergency appeal.
As we reported:
In the aftermath of a recent federal court ruling striking down as unconstitutional a California law limiting gun magazines to 10 rounds, firearms owners throughout the state have flooded suppliers with purchases.
Following the ruling, many online gun suppliers began selling magazines of all sizes to gun owners in California. One of them, Rainier Arms, has seen purchases of its Magpul Gen2 30-round AR-15-style magazines soar to the point that the sales/payment processing server went down for a time,Â AmmolandÂ reported.
â€œWe received such an overwhelming surge of sales over the weekend, it actually crashed our merchant services, the website was fine, but our payment services were so overwhelmed it crashed,â€ said Aristotle Bartolome of Rainier Arms, the gun news site reported.Â
â€œWith that said, we closed out a very strong weekend, and even with the chaos, weâ€™re currently 48 hours behind on getting all of the weekend orders caught up and adjusting staffing to better support our customers getting their orders quicker.â€
Another retailer, Brownells, also reports they are selling magazines like crazy to California buyers. More to the point, the company says that buyers in the Golden State appear to be â€œstocking upâ€ on AR-15 magazines especially (Brownells is one of the biggest firearms and gun suppliers online).
The buying spree represented far too much individual liberty and freedom from the Left-wing gun controllers in California.
The Constitution is a limit on government, not individuals
What is at issue here is little more than a difference of opinion as to what constitutes a â€œhigh capacityâ€ gun magazine.
To California, â€˜high capacityâ€™ is any magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds. But to gun owners and gun manufacturers, 30-round magazines are â€œstandardâ€ in many rifle models and, thus, are considered â€˜normal capacity magazines.â€™
Beyond this difference of opinion, however, is the constitutional issue of whether banning gun magazines that can hold a certain number of bullets amounts to an â€˜infringementâ€™ on a California gun ownerâ€™s Second Amendment â€œright to keep and bear arms.â€
Thirty-round magazines are not at all unique or uncommon to certain types of semi-automatic rifles that are otherwise perfectly legal (and perfectly constitutional) to own, and Benitezâ€™s initial ruling appears to have recognized that. When the founders included the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, itâ€™s hard to imagine that they, and most other Americans living at the time, believed that firearms technology would remain static â€“ that there would always be the single-shot musket rifle and pistol andÂ onlyÂ those firearms.
But whether they did or didnâ€™t isnâ€™t the issue: Itâ€™s whether firearm bans or bans of firearms components comprise an unconstitutional infringement on the right.
The NRA and others argue that it does, and itâ€™s hard to dismiss their position out of hand, especially when you consider the foundersâ€™ viewpoints on the Constitutionâ€™s actual function, as spelled out by libertarian scholar and author Ayn Rand:
The Constitution is a limitation of the government, not on private individuals â€” that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government â€” that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizensâ€™ protection against the government.
Randâ€™s view makes it clear that Benitezâ€™s initial instinct to stay the enforcement of Californiaâ€™s magazine ban was the correct one; the judge sought to empower the individual, not government, by tossing out the ban.
One favorable outcome from the judgeâ€™s reversal of his reversal: While residents couldn’t buy any more 30-round magazines after 5 p.m. Friday, the magazines that gun owners currently possess or have bought in recent days wonâ€™t be subject to the ban, either.
We’ll see how this all plays out.
The National Sentinel also contributed to this report, a version of which was first published at NewsTarget.