Attorney General Bonta Vows to Appeal District Court Decision on Large-Capacity Magazines; Will Continue to Defend California’s Commonsense Firearm Laws

Friday, September 22, 2023
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SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued the following statement in response to a district court decision striking down California’s large-capacity magazine (LCM) ban. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California found the large-capacity magazine ban unconstitutional but granted the Attorney General’s request for a stay of the decision to allow the Attorney General to appeal to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. At this time, the LCM ban remains in effect. Attorney General Bonta will appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit and will seek a further stay pending appeal to ensure that these vital public safety protections remain in place to prevent gun-related deaths and injuries in California communities. 

“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,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We will continue to fight for our authority to keep Californians safe from weapon enhancements designed to cause mass casualties. In the meantime, if the Ninth Circuit stays the decision pending appeal, large-capacity magazines will remain unlawful for purchase, transfer, or possession in California. The Supreme Court was clear that Bruen did not create a regulatory straitjacket for states — and we believe that the district court got this wrong. We will move quickly to correct this incredibly dangerous mistake. We will not stop in our efforts to protect the safety of communities and Californians’ rights to go about their business without fear of becoming victims of gun violence, while at the same time respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

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 November 2021, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed the Duncan decision and upheld the law under the Second Amendment. However, after New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen was decided in June 2022, the Ninth Circuit granted the Attorney General's motion to remand the case back to the federal district court. The Attorney General will now appeal the district court’s latest decision to the Ninth Circuit. 

Gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety throughout the nation. Mass shootings are on the rise throughout the country and frequently feature large-capacity magazines, causing more deaths and injuries. On average, there are over 110 gun deaths each day and nearly 41,000 each year in the U.S. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, with U.S. children being more likely to die from gun violence than in any other comparable country. In 2021, California was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by Giffords Law Center, and the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation and the gun death rate for children is 58% lower than the national average.

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