In 2016 by almost a 2-to-1 margin, California voters passed Proposition 63 banning large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Before gun owners even could start getting rid of these guns, however, the law was challenged by five Californians and the California Rifle & Pistol Association. They sued State Attorney General Xavier Becerra on the grounds that Proposition 63 infringed on their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The case landed in the court of Judge Roger Benitez, who initially placed an injunction on the law and then declared it unconstitutional in 2019.
Attorney General Becerra appealed, sending the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers California and eight other western states. For decades, the Ninth Circuit has had a reputation for issuing liberal opinions but now over a third of its active judges have been appointed by President Donald Trump.
The three-judge panel assigned to Duncan v. Becerra consists of Kenneth Lee, a conservative Trump appointee who opposes bans on released felons possessing firearms; Barbara Lynn, a liberal Bill Clinton appointee who is visiting from the Northern District of Texas; and Consuelo Callahan, a George W. Bush appointee. Callahan is likely the possible swing vote. While she wrote a dissent in Peruta v. San Diego County asserting the legality of carrying a concealed weapon in public, her views on high-capacity magazines remain unclear.
The Giffords Law Center is aware of the selection of judges but has offered no further comment.
Oral arguments will be heard on April 2.
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