When U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez last month handed down his crushing 71-page ruling in a case known as Duncan v. Bonta — declaring California’s ban on so-called “high-capacity magazines” to be unconstitutional for a second time — one could tell by reading the opinion he had really done his homework.
In his ruling, Judge Benitez observed, “There is no American tradition of limiting ammunition capacity and the 10-round limit has no historical pedigree and it is arbitrary and capricious. It is extreme. Our federal government and most states impose no limits and in the states where limits are imposed, there is no consensus. Delaware landed on a 17-round magazine limit. Illinois and Vermont picked limits of 15 rounds for handguns and 10 rounds for a rifle. Colorado went with a 15-round limit for handguns and rifles, and a 28-inch tube limit for shotguns. New York tried its luck at a 7-round limit; that did not work out. New Jersey started with a 15-round limit and then reduced the limit to 10-rounds. The fact that there are so many different numerical limits demonstrates the arbitrary nature of magazine capacity limits.”
All this tells us is that people who craft gun control laws limiting magazine capacities don’t know zip about firearms. Nobody has ever explained to me — and I have asked — why the 10-round limit seems to be popular among gun prohibitionists. I wasn’t really surprised; after all, no explanation would make sense, anyway.
Were someone to claim a 10-rounder would help prevent mass shootings, I’d just remind them about Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista killer who murdered six people in 2014. After killing three people with a knife, he drove to the area near the University of California, Santa Barbara and killed three more people using two different handguns and California-compliant 10-round magazines.
For the best perspective on what this ruling meant to anti-gunners, one need only look to the message on “X” (formerly known as Twitter) posted by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 22. Here’s what he said: “California’s high-capacity magazine ban was just STRUCK DOWN by Judge Benitez, an extremist, right-wing zealot with no regard to human life. Wake up, America. Our gun safety laws will continue to be thrown out by NRA-owned federal judges until we pass a Constitutional Amendment to protect our kids and end the gun violence epidemic in America.”
Newsom earlier this year announced his proposed 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would essentially nullify the Second Amendment and replace it with gun control fanaticism designed to turn the right to keep and bear arms into a government-regulated privilege.
Newsom isn’t the only far-left Democrat governor (recall last week’s Insider, which discussed New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s arbitrary and quickly-enjoined order essentially suspending the Second Amendment in Albuquerque and surrounding Bernalillo County), but he is certainly a standout.
He probably went into convulsions when reading through the Benitez decision. The judge observed, “Why are larger magazines chosen for self-defense? Crime happens a lot. One recent estimate holds that guns are needed defensively approximately 1,670,000 times a year.”
And then there was this: “California relies entirely on the opinion of its statistician for the hypothesis that defenders fire an average of only 2.2 shots in cases of confrontation. Where does the 2.2 shot average originate? There is no national or state government data report on shots fired in self-defense events. There is no public government database.”
Translation: Somebody may have simply made it up.
Judge Benitez’s recent ruling looked back on his previous decision regarding the California mag ban, which was remanded back to his court following the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen ruling. In a footnote on Page 5 of his new decision, the judge added this footnote: “As this Court explained in its prior decision, ‘[a]rtificial limits will eventually lead to disarmament. It is an insidious plan to disarm the populace and it depends on for its success a subjective standard of ‘necessary’ lethality. It does not take the imagination of Jules Verne to predict that if all magazines over 10 rounds are somehow eliminated from California, the next mass shooting will be accomplished with guns holding only 10 rounds.
To reduce gun violence, the state will close the newly christened 10-round ‘loophole’ and use it as a justification to outlaw magazines holding more than 7 rounds. The legislature will determine that no more than 7 rounds are ‘necessary.’ Then the next mass shooting will be accomplished with guns holding 7 rounds. To reduce the new gun violence, the state will close the 7-round ‘loophole’ and outlaw magazines holding more than 5 rounds determining that no more than 5 rounds are ‘suitable.’ And so it goes, until the only lawful firearm law-abiding responsible citizens will be permitted to possess is a single-shot handgun.’”
Mass Shooting Misinformation
California’s magazine ban was initiated ostensibly to reduce potential carnage in a mass shooting incident, which are rare but high-profile. The media loves a bloodbath.
What the media apparently doesn’t like, however, is a case where an armed private citizen intervenes and stops a shooting. The FBI claims it happens rarely, but during last month’s 38th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) in Phoenix, author/economist John Lott referred to his recent report on the “massive errors” in the FBI’s active shooting reports from 2014 to 2022.
According to Lott, “Sources the media relied on undercounted the number of instances in which armed citizens have thwarted such attacks by an order of more than ten, saving untold numbers of lives.”
“Of course,” Lott wrote, “law-abiding citizens stopping these attacks are not rare. What is rare is national news coverage of those incidents. Although those many news stories about the Greenwood shooting also suggested that the defensive use of guns might endanger others, there is no evidence that these acts have harmed innocent victims.”
Lott also notes, “The FBI reports that armed citizens only stopped 14 of the 302 active shooter incidents it identified for the period 2014-2022 … An analysis by the CPRC identified a total of 440 active shooter incidents during that period and found that an armed citizen stopped 157.”
Even if Lott’s numbers were off by 50% (which I doubt), his figure would still far exceed the number of armed citizen interventions acknowledged by the FBI.
Look for an upcoming report from Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center updating the number of active concealed carry permits and licenses in the United States, which will not include the estimated number of armed citizens in the 27 states which have adopted permitless (constitutional) carry.
At the recent GRPC, this correspondent was honored to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and to be named to the Joseph P. Tartaro II “Hall of Fame.”
Tartaro was the longtime president of the Second Amendment Foundation and executive editor of Gun Week and then TheGunMag.com, where I am now editor-in-chief. He was what Central Casting would have offered as the quintessential “crusty” old newspaper editor, a sharp-eyed reader with an excellent grasp of the English language, and a veritable walking encyclopedia of the history of the gun rights movement. And he was my friend.
I recently announced my pending retirement from that position — don’t worry, I’m not departing from Insider Online or GUNS Magazine — because at my age, it’s time to slow down a little. I’ve been working for SAF and CCRKBA for more than 23 years, which came after spending 21 years at the old Fishing & Hunting News, which came after nearly seven years at a little weekly newspaper in Washington State.
There is a lot of brass in my workshop which needs reloading, and a fair amount of firewood still in need of cutting, splitting and stacking in the woodshed. Who knows, I may even find time to press a trigger!