OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta applauded a decision by an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a case that challenged the state’s ban on the acquisition and possession of large-capacity magazines (LCMs). In a 7-4 decision in Duncan v. Bonta, the Court reversed a district court ruling, and confirmed that California’s restrictions impose only a very small burden on individuals’ ability to defend themselves while, at the same time, reducing the lethality of mass shootings and saving lives.
“Today’s decision is a victory for public safety in California,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Gun violence is an epidemic in this country, but laws like our ban on large-capacity magazines are commonsense ways to prevent this violence, including devastating mass shootings. I’m thankful to the Court for giving this case a second look, and confirming what we know to be true: our laws keep Californians safe while allowing law-abiding gun owners to exercise their constitutional rights.”
LCMs are firearm magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. They pose a substantial threat to the public and law enforcement because they allow shooters to fire scores of rounds from the same firearm in a short period of time without needing to reload.
In California, it has been illegal to manufacture, import, keep or offer for sale, give, or lend LCMs since 2000. It has been illegal to purchase and receive them since 2013. Proposition 63, which California voters passed in 2016, added a ban on the possession of LCMs. In 2017, the district court enjoined the possession ban from taking effect, pending resolution of the Duncan lawsuit. However, the ban on the sale, purchase, manufacture, importation, or acquisition of LCMs remained in effect during the appeal.
In a final, supplemental brief filed in June, Attorney General Bonta argued that California’s restrictions on LCMs respect the public’s Second Amendment right to defend themselves while advancing the state's interests in combating gun violence and reducing the number of deaths and injuries resulting from mass shootings.
In its decision today, the Court agreed, stating: “In the past half-century, large-capacity magazines have been used in about three-quarters of gun massacres with 10 or more deaths and in 100 percent of gun massacres with 20 or more deaths, and more than twice as many people have been killed or injured in mass shootings that involved a large-capacity magazine as compared with mass shootings that involved a smaller-capacity magazine.” The Court went on to say that the ban on LCMs “reasonably supports California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings.”
Attorney General Bonta is committed to keeping Californians safe, and does so by promoting and defending commonsense gun laws at the state and federal level. In September, Attorney General Bonta led a coalition of state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending New York’s law regulating when individuals may obtain a license to carry firearms in public. In August, Attorney General Bonta supported a Proposed Rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that would help regulate ghost guns by clarifying the agency’s definition of what qualifies as a firearm. Attorney General Bonta has also urged Californians to use the state’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law to help keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others. Attorney General Bonta is currently defending the state’s assault weapons ban.
A copy of the opinion is here.