Two CA Cities Struggle To Enforce High-Capacity Gun Magazine Ban

| by Jared Keever

Two Northern California cities recently passed laws that ban gun magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. As the laws go into effect questions loom over the ability of the municipalities to enforce the laws according to an Associated Press story

The ban became active in Sunnyvale, Calif., at midnight Thursday and so far no one has turned in a now-illegal magazine. In nearby San Francisco, owners of the magazines have until April 7 to turn in their magazines but police there admit that no system exists to track whether any have been turned in under the new law.

The laws were enacted as a response to the mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. The National Rifle Association filed lawsuits in both cities to overturn the bans, arguing that they violated a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision. That ruling said that every law-abiding citizen had a right to own a gun inside their home for self-defense.

U.S. District Judge Ron Whyte didn’t agree with the NRA and decided not to overturn Sunnyvale’s ban. The Associated Press reported last week that Whyte ruled the ban on high-capacity magazines did not violate any Second Amendment rights. The judge further cited an NRA study that showed Americans who use guns in self-defense rarely fire more than three shots. 

“It is rare that anyone will need to fire more than 10 rounds in self-defense,” Whyte said.

San Francisco’s law was similarly upheld by another federal judge last month. Chuck Michel, a lawyer for the NRA, said he plans to appeal both decisions. 

Several federal judges across the country have upheld high-capacity magazine bans. So far none of the laws have been struck down.

In the meantime, the laws in Sunnyvale and San Francisco remain in effect and police continue to wait for owners of the magazines to surrender them to authorities. Sunnyvale spokeswoman Jennifer Garnett said its not too late to do so. Owners of the magazines could bring them in without fear of being cited. 

"Barring any unusual circumstances, we wouldn't cite people for voluntarily turning in their large-capacity magazines to public safety even though it is legally possible at this time to cite them," she said.

Sources: The Fresno Bee (AP Story), CBS Sacramento (AP Story)