UPDATE — April 4th: Comrade Becarra got a stay issued, that goes into effect at 5 PM Pacific Time on April 5th. See my April 5th blog post about this.
There was some great news late last week, when we heard that California’s onerous 11+ round magazine ban was overturned by a Federal judge. The California law had been in effect since January 1, 2000. Finally, a magazine ban victory!
The 86-page Duncan v. Becerra court ruling itself is worth reading, since it includes a lot of historical and legislative background.
Note: I am not a licensed attorney, so the following is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal advice.
Null & Void
Thankfully, California’s magazine laws have been effectively rendered null and void. The Duncan v. Becerra ruling puts the state government in an awkward position: If they challenge it with an appeal to the Ninth Circuit court, then they might lose. And even if the liberal Ninth circuit sides with them, then it would surely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. And that of course would have wide-reaching effects. Negative rulings are now much more likely, since the California governor signed an outright ban — that would have banned the magazines that had originally been grandfathered in 2000. That ban had been scheduled to go into effect in 2017. But its was delayed by a court order, and now the Duncan v. Becerra has effectively invalidated both the 2000 and 2017 magazine ban laws.
Given the new court precedent, the California legislature would have to craft some sort of weasel-worded ban that would work its way around the strictures of Duncan v. Becerra. Anything more than that would probably be struck down by the Federal courts. What I predict is that the California legislature will attempt to enact some sort of behavioral ban vis-a-vis magazines, rather than a outright possession ban. I’d rather not go into detail about this, for fear of giving those tyrants any ideas.
Time to Stock Up and Link ’em Up!
Regardless of what the legislature and bureaucrats cook up, I can see that time is short. So I’m issuing Fair Warning to Californians: The notoriously-liberal Ninth Circuit Court might intervene on appeal and re-institute the unconstitutional California magazine ban law. Or the California legislature may concoct some new magazine restriction–either physical or behavioral. So it is a pressing need for California gun owners to stock up their lifetime supply of 11+ round magazines and magazine extensions in the next few weeks. And folks outside of California should be advised that California has nearly 1/10th of the nation’s population and they’ve been magazines deprived for 19 years. So the resultant rush of sales may create some short-term nationwide magazine shortages.
Furthermore, any owners of belt-fed weapons should get busy linking! (On January 1, 2000 it became illegal in California to link together a belt more than 10 rounds long, or to combine short linked belts, or to fill cloth belts that did not already hold more than 10 rounds. Assemble belts now, in case a new ban is enacted.)
Take full advantage of this window of opportunity, dear readers! Presumably, if the 2000 law is reimposed, then its Grandfather Clause will be “re-set” to the effective date of the re-imposition of the law. Of course anyone who is then found in possession of magazines made between 2000 and 2019 will have the presumption of innocence. With this window of opportunity, the burden of proof will be on government prosecutors to prove that a magazine was obtained after this window. Hopefully, none of that will ever become an issue, but if it does, California gun owners will be able to say: “I bought those right after the Duncan v. Becerra decision.” Case closed. So, again, the clock is ticking! Buy those magazines as soon as possible.
Important Note: Keep in mind that the new ruling does not affect “Magazine Locked” (fixed magazine) semi-auto rifles in California. Those are covered in a different law that was outside of the scope and reach of Duncan v. Becerra. Hence, it would still be illegal to insert an 11+round magazine into such a rifle, in California. However, It is fairly safe to assume that your newly-acquired 11+ round magazines could be inserted and used in so-called “featureless” semi-autos. (Just as it is currently legal to insert pre-2000 grandfathered magazines in them.)
Some Good Sources
I can recommend several companies that sell magazines. They include KeepShooting.com, Palmetto State Armory (PSA), Brownells, GunMagWarehouse.com, Natchez Shooters Supplies, and Midway USA. I should also mention one other company that has been trapped behind enemy lines in Mission Viejo, California all these years: WhatACountry.com. They specialize in military surplus imported from Israel and Europe.
I assume that gun show dealers will soon descend on the Golden State with plenty of 11+ round goodies to sell. And of course it worth for gun owners to drive to a Nevada, Oregon, or Arizona gun show. (Although a ban may become law in Oregon soon. That is all the more reason to stock up!) And there are now plenty of sources for magazines via the Internet and by mail order. But be advised that not all of those “once-bitten, twice shy” sellers will be willing to ship 11+ round magazines into California. So make that your first question, if you call them to place an order by phone.
There Was a Loophole
As an aside, a SurvivalBlog reader wrote to mention that not only was the 2000 California magazine ban a bad law, it was also unenforceable and poorly-written. He noted: “[as interpreted and enforced by the California Department of Justice, the] California law had a significant loophole. It never forbade the rebuilding of magazines and it never defined a core part of the magazine. So you were allowed to bring in any parts [needed] to rebuild [magazines]. You could not create a[n entirely] new magazine from parts but you could rebuild 100% of a magazine without violating California law. And nothing required that you destroy the removed magazine parts [from the old magazine]. California law-making at its best.”
Once again, time is short. Stock up!