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Federal Court Upholds Sunnyvale's Ban On Gun Magazines That Can Hold More Than 10 Bullets

SAN FRANCISCO/SUNNYVALE (KCBS)— An appeals court has upheld Sunnyvale's ban on gun magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected gun owners' arguments that Sunnyvale's ban violated Second Amendment rights on Wednesday. The unanimous three-judge panel said Sunnyvale's public safety concerns outweighed self-defense concerns raised by the National Rifle Association and others.

"It is self-evident that Sunnyvale's interests in promoting public safety and reducing violent crime are substantial and important government interests," wrote Circuit Judge Michael Daly Hawkins. "So, too, are Sunnyvale's interests in reducing the harm and lethality of gun injuries in general, and in particular as against law enforcement officers," Hawkins wrote in the decision.

State law banned the sale and manufacturer of high-capacity magazines since 2000. But Sunnyvale's voter-approved ban— Measure C, goes further, prohibiting possession of high-capacity magazines. The law allows a few exceptions, such as one for law enforcement officers.

The ruling affirms a March 5, 2014, decision in which U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte of San Jose declined to grant a preliminary injunction. Under the terms of Measure C, Sunnyvale residents had to remove their high-capacity magazines from the city or give them to police or a licensed gunsmith by March 6, 2014.

The 9th Circuit decision allows continued enforcement of the ban while the lawsuit by the five citizens proceeds, but the plaintiffs are entitled to a full trial at a later date and can also appeal Wednesday's decision.

Chuck Michel, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, "An appeal of this decision is already being prepared."

"The appeal will be either an immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or a request to the 9th Circuit for reconsideration by an expanded 11-judge panel, he said.

"This decision, like other recent Second Amendment decisions from the 9th Circuit, is based on a fundamental misapplication of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Heller case, and it is time for the Supreme Court to emphatically let lower courts know that it meant what it said," Michel said.

In a landmark decision known as the Heller case in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court said the constitutional right to bear arms extends to individual gun possession, but also said that some limits are permissible.

"A large majority of Sunnyvale voters passed Measure C in the interest of public safety so we are very pleased that the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court's ruling," said City Manager Deanna J. Santana.

San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities in California and across the country have enacted or are considering similar bans.

The decision is the first time that the 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over nine western states, has ruled on whether a ban on high-capacity gun magazines appears to be constitutional.

Several other federal courts across the country have made similar rulings. None have struck down a ban.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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