U.S. Law Shield warned its members and others across the country not to travel to Los Angeles with any 10+ magazines after Nov. 18, 2015—unless a suit to stop the city’s newest magazine ban is successful. California outlawed manufacturing or selling high-capacity magazines in 2000, but the city of Los Angeles made it illegal to possess them. Law Shield notes that lawsuits against magazine bans in the California cities of Sunnyvale and San Francisco have failed.
In July 2015, the City Council voted to ban ownership of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Gun owners face a Nov. 18 deadline to turn over magazines or move them out of the city. See our previous Shooter’s Log coverage of the ban here and here.
Significantly, the law doesn’t just apply to Los Angeles city residents. Non-resident gun owners must avoid traveling through any part of the city of Los Angeles while possessing any banned magazine. This map illustrates where the borders of Los Angeles fall.
Notably, the city intersects every major Southern California freeway. In some cases, the city of Los Angeles completely surrounds other smaller cities, like Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica. So anyone traveling out of Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, and anyone traveling through the city of Los Angeles with a banned magazine can be prosecuted. However, 30 California Sheriffs, two law enforcement organizations, the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), and several other individuals have filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ordinance. The lawsuit challenges the magazine possession ban on legal “preemption” grounds, because California state law specifically allows for the possession of such magazines.
Summary: Under the ordinance, possession of any “large-capacity” magazine within Los Angeles after November 19, 2015 will be a misdemeanor offense. Los Angeles residents must get rid of their banned magazines by that date. The lawsuit asks the court to stay enforcement of the ordinance while the matter is litigated. If the court refuses to stay enforcement of the ordinance, Los Angeles residents or travelers to the area who possess any “large-capacity” magazine generally have the following four options available to them:
- Option #1: Surrender all such magazines to the Los Angeles Police Department: Although state law allows you to sell or transfer any “large-capacity” magazine to any California peace officer, the ordinance as written only allows you to transfer all such magazines to the LAPD. If you choose to surrender your magazines, you must do so by November 18th, 2015. DO NOT attempt to surrender your magazines to law enforcement within Los Angeles after November 18th, as you will be in violation of the ordinance and could face a potential misdemeanor charge.
- Option #2: Sell or transfer all such magazines to a properly licensed person: There are limited options available to civilians under state law when transferring or selling “large-capacity” magazines. One of the few is to sell your magazines to a properly licensed firearm dealer in the state of California.
- Option #3: Remove all such magazines from the City of Los Angeles: If you are able to do so, you must remove your magazines from the City of Los Angeles before the ordinance takes effect. But you must also be careful not to unlawfully transfer the magazines to another person. To avoid doing so, only you can have access to the stored magazine (e.g., only you have the key to the safe or storage area where the magazines are kept outside of the city). Once outside of the city, you can also sell or transfer your magazines to any California peace officer.
- Option #4: Permanently alter all such magazines– The ordinance does not consider magazines that have been permanently altered in a way that will only allow them to accept 10 or less rounds to be “large capacity magazines.” Unfortunately, it is not clear what constitutes a “permanent” alteration.
Our advice: If you are a Los Angeles resident and you fail to exercise one of these options for any of your “large-capacity” magazines before the ordinance takes effect on November 19, 2015, you should contact an attorney experienced in firearms law to discuss your situation.
Also, if you have to travel through the area and you plan to possess a restricted magazine, avoid L.A. Perhaps the sheriffs will win a stay, but in the Golden State, there are no guarantees.