PHILADELPHIA— A split U.S. appeals court has upheld a New Jersey law that limits the amount of ammunition a single gun magazine can hold.
A law passed this year limits most gun owners there to magazines that hold 10 rounds of ammunition instead of the 15-round limit in place since 1990.
U.S. Circuit Judge Patty Schwartz wrote that the law balances the state’s interest in public safety with the rights of individuals to defend their homes. The 2-1 ruling Wednesday denied a motion by a gun-rights group for a temporary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.
New Jersey officials hope the ban on large capacity magazines could thwart mass shooters if they have to stop to reload. About seven other states, the District of Columbia and several cities have similar limits.
Schwartz said the National Rifle Association affiliates challenging the law downplayed “the significant increase in the frequency and lethality” of mass shootings and active shooter situations. And she said the state effort doesn’t violate the Second Amendment because “it imposes no limit on the number of firearms or magazines or amount of ammunition a person may lawfully possess.”
Judge Stephanos Bibas, in dissent, pointed to that fact in questioning evidence the law will reduce gun violence.
The law is one of six gun control measures signed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in June. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, in a tweet Wednesday, called the ruling “a big win for public safety and law enforcement safety.”
The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which vowed to appeal, said that Americans own 133 magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets, about half of all those sold. Executive Director Scott L. Bach attacked the ruling as “plainly wrong,” and said it was “turning one million honest citizens into felons” for taking steps to defend their homes.