A U.S. Supreme Court justice refused to block a new law that bars the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines in a Silicon Valley city, in a setback to gun-rights advocates.
Justice Anthony Kennedy yesterday let the Sunnyvale, California, law remain in effect while a constitutional challenge by residents goes forward. The law, which took effect March 6 after being adopted by city voters, makes it a crime to possess feeding devices with the ability to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The high court has kept its distance from the national debate over firearms in recent years. The justices haven’t taken up a gun-rights case since they ruled in 2010 that the Second Amendment restricts states and cities as well as the federal government.
The Sunnyvale residents say the law goes to the core of their Second Amendment right to possess firearms in their homes for self-defense purposes. They say almost half the magazines in the country have capacities greater than 10 rounds.
The city “chose the extraordinary path of enacting a retroactive ban on the possession of protected arms by law-abiding citizens,” the group, led by Leonard Fyock, argued in court papers.
Voters in Sunnyvale, home to technology companies including Yahoo! Inc., approved the ballot initiative in November with 67 percent of the vote.
A federal judge in San Jose refused to halt the measure, saying the impact on Second Amendment rights was “relatively light.” The law is “reasonably tailored to the asserted objective of protecting the public from gun violence,” U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte wrote.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco similarly let the measure take effect.
The case is Fyock v. City of Sunnyvale, 13A918.