From the DA’s Desk
By Robert Phillips
Deputy District Attorney (ret.)
Second Amendment Update: The Constitutionality of P.C. § 32310 (large capacity magazines)
Large capacity magazines are again illegal to possess.
On Sept. 22, 2023, federal District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez struck down California Penal Code § 32310. Section 32310 makes it a crime — a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction, depending upon the circumstances — to manufacture, cause to be manufactured, import into the state, keep for sale, or offer or expose for sale, or to give, lend, buy, or receive, or simply to possess a “large capacity magazine,” defined as magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
On October 10, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, in Duncan v. Bonta (Ninth Cir., 10/10/2023) __ F.4th __ [2023 U.S.App. LEXIS 26869], granted California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s emergency petition to stay implementation of Benitez’s ruling, except the exceptions as provided for under P.C. § 32310(c) and (d), which relate to P.C. §§ 17700 et seq. (antique firearms, etc.) and P.C. §§ 32400 et seq. (law enforcement, generally).
This current order is based on the court’s conclusion that AG Bonta will likely succeed on the merits in his appeal of Benitez’s ruling.
So, we don’t have to discuss the legal issues at stake here since the enforceability of § 32310 is pending a final ruling from the Ninth Circuit, which could take months. In the meantime, officers in the field need only know that it is currently illegal to possess large-capacity magazines in California, despite Benitez’s ruling, with the exceptions as noted.