California’s ban on high-capacity gun magazines was struck down. Can you buy them now?

Update: 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.

The NRA was among the Second Amendment activist groups to oppose California’s Proposition 63, the high-capacity magazine ban, and the organization assisted in challenging the voter-approved law.

Technically, the restriction against large-capacity magazines, defined as an ammunition-feeding device capable of holding more than 10 rounds, has been unenforceable since June 29, 2017 because of legal challenges. As a result, gun-owners were able to keep large-capacity magazines they already owned.

Judge Roger Benitez last week opened the door to the acquisition of new magazines in a decision that found California’s gun control law to be an unconstitutional restriction on the right to own weapons.

Some gun retailers are eager to get back into the California market. Gun manufacturer Beretta this week advertised a 20 percent discount at its online store to celebrate Benitez’ ruling.

Retailer Palmetta State Armory this week also promoted California-themed social media posts. “We are getting prepared to send a whole lot of freedom to our friends in California,” a Facebook post from the company read.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has asked Benitez to stay his decision pending an appeal, which likely would be heard before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; Becerra asked for the stay to be issued no later than Friday.

In his motion, Becerra wrote that “there is evidence that sales have begun already.”

Related stories from McClatchy DC