Days following the anniversary of one of the nation’s worst weekends of senseless bloodshed, the killing of 32 victims in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned a California ban of the very type of large-capacity magazine that facilitated the two massacres. Approved in 2016 by a healthy voter majority, Proposition 63 outlawed magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. “California’s near-categorical ban of (large-capacity magazines) strikes at the core of the Second Amendment — the right to armed self-defense,” Judge Kenneth Lee wrote for the court majority.
However, it is hard to imagine a situation in which some law-abiding gun owner would need to shoot off dozens of rounds in defense of self or others. It is a stretch to conceive of a home invasion by a horde of armed intruders, so many that a rapid-fire response would be required to ward off the threat. The 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Heller clearly affirmed an individual’s Second Amendment right to gun ownership for the purpose of self-defense, but not in an absolute sense. “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” In that light, Judge Lee’s contention that large-capacity magazines are essential for self-defense hardly seems reasonable. [full article]