Before Tuesday, people in Los Angeles were barred by California law from manufacturing, selling, distributing or bringing into the state the kind of large-capacity gun magazines used in recent mass shootings. But they could possess them.
Not anymore. The city council voted 12-0 to join San Francisco and Sunnyvale and close the loophole. “People who want to defend their families don’t need a 100-round drum magazine and an automatic weapon to do it,” City Councilman Paul Krekorian said at the meeting.
Not everyone agrees. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and CalGuns California have threatened to sue L.A., but U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected a lawsuit (pdf) in February 2014 that sought to stop an injunction against San Francisco’s ordinance. Judge Alsup wrote:
“Whereas the civilian defender rarely will exhaust the up-to-ten magazine, the mass murderer has every intention of firing every round possible and will exhaust the largest magazine available to him. On balance, more innocent lives will be saved by limiting the capacity of magazines than by allowing the previous regime of no limitation to continue.”
He brushed aside NRA arguments that the ban violated their Second Amendment right to possess a weapon just because they couldn’t snap in another 10-bullet magazine in order to keep firing.
New Jersey, New York, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. also ban possession of magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.
The Los Angeles ordinance makes possessing large-capacity magazines a misdemeanor and takes effect one year after the ordinance’s adoption. Owners of the clips have 60 days to surrender them, with several exceptions including those for law enforcement, museum collections, gunsmiths and entertainment productions.
One potentially large loophole includes “any person lawfully in possession of a firearm that the person obtained prior to January 1, 2000, if no magazine that holds 10 or less rounds of ammunition is compatible with that firearm and the person possesses the large-capacity magazine solely for use with that firearm.”