A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld New Jersey’s law restricting the size of firearm magazines to 10 rounds, saying it doesn’t run afoul of the Second Amendment and will help save lives by giving victims more time to flee while a shooter reloads.
The state law, passed earlier this year, permits no more than 10 rounds to be held within a firearm. It exempts active-duty members of the military and the police, as well as retired law enforcement officers, permitting them to carry semi-automatic handguns that hold 15 rounds of ammunition.
“New Jersey’s law reasonably fits the state’s interest in public safety and does not unconstitutionally burden the Second Amendment’s right to self-defense in the home,” wrote 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Patty Shwartz, an Obama-appointee.
A group of gun rights advocates challenged the law and had sought an injunction, saying it banned a whole category of firearms.
But the court, in a 2-1 ruling, said that wasn’t true. Judge Shwartz said a limit on magazines, doesn’t take any guns out of Americans’ hands, and said it also doesn’t limit the number of rounds available. Someone could still purchase three 10-round magazines, giving them the equivalent of two now-banned 15-round magazines.
The court said New Jersey had a valid public safety interest in that change.
“The record demonstrates that when there are pauses in shooting to reload or for other reasons, opportunities arise for victims to flee, as evidenced by the 2017 Las Vegas and 2013 D.C. Navy Yard shootings … or for bystanders to intervene, as in the 2018 Tennessee Waffle House shooting and 2011 Arizona shooting involving Representative Gabrielle Giffords,” the court ruled.
Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, dissented, saying the state didn’t meet its burden of proof to show the law was necessary.
“We must treat the right to keep and bear arms like other enumerated rights,” the judge dissented. “We may not water it down and balance it away based on our own sense of wise policy.”
Five other circuits have upheld laws limiting the sizes of magazines. Eight other states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar measures.
⦁ David Sherfinski contributed to this report.