Attorney General Bonta Joins Amicus Brief in Support of Washington, D.C.’s Large-Capacity Magazine Ban

Friday, October 27, 2023
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Large-capacity magazine bans prevent mass shootings, are consistent with Second Amendment

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in support of the District of Columbia’s restrictions on large-capacity magazines (LCMs). Washington, D.C.’s law bans the possession, sale, or transfer of LCMs holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. California law also imposes similar restrictions on LCMs.

“Large capacity magazines have been used in many horrific mass shootings around the country, including right here in California,” said Attorney General Bonta. “I applaud the district court for declining to block Washington, D.C.’s commonsense gun law prohibiting large capacity magazines, and urge the Court of Appeals to reject the effort to invalidate the district’s life-saving legislation.”

In California, it has been illegal to manufacture, import, keep or offer for sale, give, or lend LCMs with more than 10 rounds of ammunition since 2000. It has been illegal to purchase and receive LCMs since 2013. Proposition 63, which was passed by Californians in 2016, added a ban on the possession of LCMs. The law was challenged and initially struck down by a district court. But that case is currently being heard by the Ninth Circuit, which granted California’s request for a stay of the district court decision. The ban remains in effect until further notice.

Firearms equipped with LCMs are estimated to account for up to 36% of crime guns nationwide. In mass shootings where four or more were people killed from
2015 to 2022, 60% involved firearms with LCMs and accounted for a third of all mass shooting deaths and more than 80% of all injuries. LCMs have been used in numerous mass shootings throughout the country, including the mass shootings in Orlando in 2016, Sutherland Springs in 2017, Parkland in 2018, and Uvalde in 2022.  While a 2019 study by Columbia University found that, “deaths in high-fatality mass shootings, relative to the population, were more than three times higher in states that did not restrict LCMs,” states such as California remain impacted by the lack of a broader federal ban on LCMs.

The challenge to the district’s law, Hanson v. District of Columbia, was filed by a group of plaintiffs which also sought to preliminarily block the law while the district court considers its constitutionality. The district court denied the motion for a preliminary injunction. 

In the brief filed in the D.C. Circuit, which can be found here, Attorney General Bonta and the coalition argue that district court decision must be upheld because:

  • Plaintiffs failed to show that the possession of LCMs is protected by the Second Amendment.
  • LCMs are not commonly used for self-defense purposes and pose a unique danger to the public.
  • The district’s law is consistent with historical restrictions on dangerous weapons and accessories not commonly used for self-defense to protect public safety.
  • The district is not alone in restricting LCMs. Currently, 14 states, as well as the district, limit magazine capacity.

Attorney General Bonta stands with partners throughout the state to continue tackling the issue of gun violence strategically and aggressively by:


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