On August 14, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated California’s law which “barred its citizens from owning so-called “large capacity magazines” (LCMs) that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.”  Duncan v. Becerra held “California’s near-categorical ban of LCMs strikes at the core of the Second Amendment — the right to armed self-defense”, and that “even well-intentioned laws must pass constitutional muster.”

Its analysis may have a broader impact on proposed legislative measures to restrict California peace officers’ right of self-defense, as the appellate court ruled that “[a]rmed self-defense is a fundamental right rooted in tradition and the text of the Second Amendment.”  The court noted that the ban criminalizes ownership of magazines that come standard in most handguns which are staples of self-defense and is so sweeping that half of the magazines in American are now illegal in California. The law threatened law-abiding Californians with up to a year in jail for continued possession of magazines, even if legally owned for years.

While acknowledging the State’s wide latitude to regulate firearms and curb gun violence, “the Second Amendment limits the state’s ability to second-guess a citizen’s choice of arms if it imposes a substantial burden on her right to self-defense.”  The court found many Californians find solace in the protection of a handgun with an LCM, such as individuals who live in remote areas, high crime areas, or communities that distrust law enforcement. “The Second Amendment is a fundamental constitutional right guaranteed to the people — especially those who may not be equally protected by the state,” U.S. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lee wrote.