AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

When Judge Benitez struck down California’s magazine ban, it was a thing of beauty. Suddenly, the most anti-gun state in the nation was faced with the reality that its citizens would be able to own magazines of whatever size they wanted.

Criminals had been doing so for some time, but now everyone was able. It wasn’t just a blow for those whose previously grandfathered magazines were made legal once again, but for everyone.

But alas, it was short-lived. At least, it looks that way for now.

A California state law banning sales of high-capacity magazine is back in effect as of 5 p.m. on Friday, April 5. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra secured a stay on a judge’s decision overturning the magazine ban, meaning Californians cannot buy the magazines while the state prepares to appeal the decision.


A court order striking down California’s ban on high-capacity magazines drew cheers from gun rights advocates and criticism from gun control supporters. But what did it actually do?

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action laid out an explanation on Wednesday cautioning that gun owners still face some risk if they buy the previously banned magazines from out-of-state dealers.

The court order could be put on hold or overturned, and that could put the purchaser in violation of California law, the NRA said.

“Should an individual order ‘large capacity’ magazines from an online distributor, and during the shipping process a subsequent order from a court stays the enforcement of the injunction, (the section of the penal code prohibiting high-capacity magazines) will once again be in effect,” the NRA said.

And, it should be noted, at least some retailers did begin marketing explicitly to Californians. How many magazines were in transit when the ruling came down?

What, ultimately, does this mean?

Well, my understanding as a layman is that a stay indicates the judge issuing it believes there’s a good chance the decision would override Judge Benitez’s decision. However, it’s not automatic by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, it tends to keep the status quo intact knowing it can be a bit easier to do so than to try and put the genie back in the bottle.

(See also: magazine sales to California)

Judge Benitez laid down what looked like a legalistic work of art in defense of the Second Amendment. While it conceded that there were reasonable limits to gun rights–a belief I reject–that finding was based on court decisions and precedence, so I’m willing to let it slide. What I did see is a valid rebuttal to magazine bans in not just California, but across the nation as a whole.

I’m hard-pressed to imagine a court, even the Ninth Circus, to find legal grounds to overturn his decision. If they do, I fully expect the legal arguments to be resurrected in the Supreme Court.

For those of you in California, I offer my condolences. It looks like it might be time to take all your “larger capacity” magazines on a boating trip.