Letter from California: Battle for gun rights continues in San Diego County, Sunnyvale

A couple of Second Amendment gun battles have been brewing for quite some time now in California.

One of the most recent battles determined whether everyone would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in California if they were legally able to own a firearm.


The case began when the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department failed to issue concealed weapon carry permits to residents who otherwise met the legal requirements for owning a gun.

Instead of maintaining a shall-issue policy for those gun owners to carry concealed weapons, the sheriff instead followed a may-issue policy. In other words, it was up to the Sheriff’s discretion to issue a permit.

Michelle Laxson, a longtime resident of the county along with other San Diego County residents, joined together to challenge the sheriff department’s policy.

Laxson and others believed that the department’s attitude was not helpful but rather treated their request for a permit as if it were a joke.

In February of this year, however, the Second Amendment prevailed. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a responsible citizen has the right to carry a concealed weapon for self-protection.

The sheriff’s department decided not to seek a review of the decision but instead, started the process of issuing the concealed carry weapon permits.

California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris, petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals, for an en-banc review. Essentially, Harris was asking the court to re-hear the case in front of the entire panel of judges, rather than the three-judge panel that heard the case. The petition was denied by the court on Nov. 12.


With that Second Amendment challenge over, a new anti-gun battle has begun.

The city of Sunnyvale, California, about an hour south of San Francisco, passed an ordinance which bans possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. Large-capacity is defined as a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Anyone in possession of such weapon will be threatened with criminal prosecution.

Mountain View, San Francisco and Los Angeles are also looking to pass a similar ordinance but are waiting to see what happens with Sunnyvale’s ordinance, which is now pending before the 9th Circuit. This is the same court that ruled in favor of the Second Amendment in the Laxson case.

A group of Sunnyvale gun owners, with the support of the National Rifle Association and other groups, is petitioning the court to invalidate the ordinance, which was approved by voters.

Leonard Fyock, along with other Sunnyvale gun owners, said to the 9th Circuit that millions own such magazines to protect “hearth and home.”

An NRA lawyer representing Fyock said nearly half of ammunition magazines in circulation outside of California are capable of holding more than 10 rounds and that anyone driving through Sunnyvale would be at risk of criminal penalties if they are in possession of these magazines.


Sunnyvale’s hired gun, Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal action project said guns with magazines over 10 rounds are not needed for “lawful self-defense.”

As the law in California currently stands, there is a ban on making, selling, giving or lending magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. This law has been in effect since 2000.

The Sunnyvale law goes one step further by making it illegal to possess guns with a larger capacity magazine within a private home. The “illegal magazines” would have to be surrendered to law enforcement in order to avoid prosecution for a misdemeanor offense.

While California has some of the strictest handgun laws in the nation, those in favor of upholding the Second Amendment view Sunnyvale’s ordinance as nothing more than a violation of the Constitution which needs to be righted.

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