Just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court chose to hear an important Second Amendment case out of New York, the National Rifle Association and the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs asked the Court to hear another crucial case, this one involving gun-magazine capacity.
In this case, Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc., v. Gurbir S. Grewal, plaintiffs argue that New Jersey’s ban on ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds is unconstitutional.
“Millions of Americans have purchased magazines with that capacity,” the NRA’s petition to the high court argues, “and hundreds of millions are in circulation. … Although these magazines enjoy a long historical tradition, there is no similar tradition of government regulation. There were no restrictions on magazine capacity at all at the time of the ratification of the Second Amendment.”
After having a capacity limit of 15 rounds on the books for the past several decades, in 2018, Garden State lawmakers made it illegal for residents to possess magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Plaintiffs brought the case, challenging the constitutionality of the ban.
A Third Circuit panel upheld the ban in 2018. Then last year, a different Third Circuit panel concluded that a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds was, indeed, permitted under the Second Amendment.
“The fact that magazines holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition are standard in many of the most-common firearms in America, and that millions of Americans own these kinds of magazines and hundreds of millions of them are in circulation are precisely the reasons the gun-control lobby and their politicians are clamoring for a ban,” NRA Spokeswoman Amy Hunter recently said. “This magazine ban is one of their first steps toward banning guns and eventually outlawing self-defense. Arbitrarily restricting these magazines is unconstitutional, and does nothing to increase public safety.”
This is the second time that the NRA has asked the high court to take a case in the last five months. The other was the New York case mentioned earlier—New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen—which challenges the state’s ultra-restrictive requirements for residents seeking a concealed-carry permit for self-defense purposes.
Interestingly, New Jersey’s magazine ban is very similar to the one being considered in the U.S. Congress. On April 14, a group of anti-gun federal lawmakers, led by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), introduced legislation to ban the sale, manufacturing, transfer, possession or importation of high-capacity gun magazines that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
“There’s no reason why anyone, other than military, needs a gun magazine that holds more than 10 rounds,” DeGette said at the time the bill was introduced. “It’s past time for Congress to act on common-sense gun-safety measures such as this. Banning the sale of high-capacity magazines in this country will save lives and Congress needs to act on this legislation immediately.”
Actually, such magazine bans don’t curtail violent crime. The Clinton gun ban of the 1990s, which banned many semi-automatic rifles, also banned magazines holding more than 10 rounds. A government study later showed that the ban had no measurable affect on violent crime.
Ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are standard equipment for many handguns and rifles designed for defensive purposes. They’re also commonly used in handguns kept for protection at home and carried for protection away from home, and they’re commonly used in defensive skills-based firearm training and sports.
Additionally, since ammunition magazines that gun-ban advocates call “high-capacity” are in common use by American citizens, they are protected by the Second Amendment, as articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller.