Appeals court upholds N.J. ban on high-capacity gun magazines

Gavel. Photo: Public Domain Pictures

Dec. 6 (UPI) — A federal appeals court has upheld a New Jersey law that bans the sale of high-capacity gun magazines, after a legal challenge that may end up in the Supreme Court.

New Jersey adopted the ban in June in response to the popularity of high-capacity magazines in high-profile mass shootings, such as the attack in Las Vegas a year ago that killed 58 people.

The ban was a defeat for gun rights activists who say the state’s law violates the Second, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Wednesday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia voted 2-1 to uphold a lower court ruling in September that upheld the legality of the ban. The challenge was brought in a lawsuit by the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal called the decision a “big win for public safety and law enforcement safety.”

The New Jersey Law Journal reported the state’s law mimics others in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, in that it limits firearm magazines to hold a maximum of 10 rounds.

The September ruling said the state had a strong interest in regulating firearms and pointed to a June shooting at a Trenton, N.J., arts festival that was stopped when the gunman was forced to reload.

The jurist who voted against the ban in Wednesday’s ruling, judge Stephanos Bibas, emphasized in a 19-page dissent that New Jersey law also hampers those who want to use larger-capacity magazines for self-defense.

The issue could end up in the Supreme Court, as the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs suggested in a post to its website.

“The final decision on this issue will ultimately rest with the U.S. Supreme Court,” it states.

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