Sunnyvale’s voter-approved gun control measure doesn’t violate the Second Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Ron Whyte upheld Measure C, an ordinance approved by 66 percent of voters last fall in response to the 2012 Newtown massacre. With this ruling, the municipal gun law becomes effective today. Read the exact language of the new city code here.
Sunnyvale residents can no longer own gun magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds and have to lock up their firearms at home. The ordinance also holds the city’s gun-store owners accountable for keeping records on ammunition sales for two years and residents criminally liable if they don’t report their guns lost or stolen within two days.
Sunnyvale gun-owners had a three-month grace period to sell off, give away or turn in their high-capacity magazines to police to be in compliance with the law, said Sunnyvale communications officer Jennifer Garnett.
“We’re pleased with judge Whyte’s decision,” Garnett said. “We believe it’s consistent with what the majority of our citizens said they wanted when they passed the ordinance.”
Whyte’s decision marks the second such ruling in a federal court in recent weeks. Another judge in February sustained San Francisco’s ban on high-capacity magazines for similar reasons.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed both lawsuits to kill the city prohibitions, suggesting they defy a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court precedent that stated every responsible citizen has a constitutional right to own a firearm for their own safety.
In handing down his decision, Whyte pointed to an NRA study that showed Americans who fired in self-defense used three or fewer shots and that limiting clip capacity to 10 or less bullets would in no way violate the Supreme Court ruling. He said the plaintiffs used only anecdotal evidence to support their claim that high-capacity clips are needed for self-defense.
“The banned arms—magazines having the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds—are hardly central to self defense,” Whyte wrote in the motion denying the injunction.
This week’s ruling could give other Silicon Valley cities the courage to pursue gun control legislation of their own, according to the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The NRA has already challenged the Sunnyvale ruling, filing an emergency motion late Wednesday in response to the Measure C decision. NRA attorney Chuck Michel did not immediately return a call for comment.
Sunnyvale is still fighting a second lawsuit triggered by the gun ordinance, one filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by gun store U.S. Firearms. The suit challenges a section of the new city ordinance that requires gun-sellers to keep two years worth of records on ammo sales and requires gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons within 48 hours.