Court denies NRA request to block city's gun magazine law

At issue is ban on high-capacity magazines passed by voters in a Bay Area city that went into effect on March 6

Voters in the Bay Area city of Sunnyvale, Calif., in November approved a ban on gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Wednesday denied an emergency request by the National Rifle Association to block enforcement of a Bay Area city’s ordinance that bans gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

A court spokesman said Kennedy denied the request without comment. Kennedy oversees emergency appeals from California and eight other Western states.

Sixty-six percent of Sunnyvale voters approved the ban on high-capacity magazines in November. It went into effect on March 6, and since then, anyone with a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds was committing a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail or both.

Since 2000, California state law has outlawed the making, selling, giving and lending of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds – but it does not ban possession of such magazines lawfully acquired before 2000. Overall, the state has the toughest gun control laws in the nation.

Sunnyvale and San Francisco took the ban further and passed measures that made possession of high-capacity magazines a misdemeanor crime,  moves widely seen as reactions to the 2012 shooting deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

San Francisco's law, passed by the Board of Supervisors in October and signed by Mayor Ed Lee in November, bans possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It is scheduled to take effect April 7. The Sunnyvale ordinance outlaws use as well as possession of the magazines.

The NRA filed suit against both cities. In January, a federal judge rejected a request by the cities to consolidate the suits.

The order issued Wednesday suggests that San Francisco can expect to be allowed to enforce its ban during court challenges.

Chuck Michel, the NRA's West Coast counsel representing the Sunnyvale plaintiffs, issued a statement Wednesday saying he was "disappointed but not surprised" that Kennedy refused the plaintiffs the "very rarely granted extraordinary relief we had hoped for."

"As the courts themselves make clear, this type of denial is not a reflection on the merits of our underlying appeal, which is still going forward in the Ninth Circuit," Michel said. "Our brief is due in early April, and law enforcement and civil rights groups are already lining up to support us in that effort to stop these infringements on Second Amendment rights."

Al Jazeera and wire services

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