When New York State passed its execrable gun law, limiting the number of bullets that may be loaded into a magazine, I wrote:
I defy anyone to name any constructive purpose served by such a rule. If you were to ban 10-round magazines outright, one might imagine — following the usual pattern of gun-controllists’ wishful thinking — that it would make them a little harder for criminals to obtain. But allowing the magazines eliminates even that highly-unlikely salutary purpose.
The sole consequence of this rule will be that law-abiding persons will have seven rounds, while having no effect on criminals whatsoever.
In other words, this law is not about stopping criminals, but about disarming innocents.
Now a federal court has ruled pretty much exactly that:
It stretches the bounds of this Court’s deference to the predictive judgments of the legislature to suppose that those intent on doing harm (whom, of course, the Act is aimed to stop) will load their weapon with only the permitted seven rounds. In this sense, the provision is not “substantially related” to the important government interest in public safety and crime prevention. . .
This Court has ruled that New York is entitled to regulate assault weapons and large-capacity magazines under the principal presumption that the law will reduce their prevalence and accessability in New York State, and thus, inversely, increase public safety. The ban on the number of rounds a gun owner is permitted to load into his 10-round magazine, however, will obviously have no such effect because 10-round magazines remain legal. As described above, the seven-round limit thus carries a much stronger possibility of disproportionately affecting law-abiding citizens.
UPDATE: Andrew Branca points out that the law was even worse than I thought. He points out that merely complying with the law is no protection, if an arresting officer miscounts the bullets in your magazine (inadvertently or not). The only way to protect yourself would be to use a magazine that could not be loaded with more than seven rounds, and for the most part those don’t exist. So among people who don’t trust New York police to treat gun owners fairly (which should be everyone) it’s a de facto ban on most semi-automatic pistols.