Lifesaving Limit on Large-Capacity Magazines Passed with 63% of Vote as Part of November’s Prop 63 Ballot Measure

Gun Lobby Challenged Law in Multiple Districts—Only One Court Enjoined Law

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its partner organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, denounced a decision from the US District Court for the Southern District of California in Duncan v. Becerra. The more than 60-page opinion, written by Judge Roger Benitez, granted a motion by the California Rifle & Pistol Association, the state’s NRA chapter, for a preliminary injunction delaying the large-capacity magazine ban included in California’s Proposition 63, a package of lifesaving gun laws passed by voters with a two-to-one margin this past November.

Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:

“When our attorneys drafted and helped pass Prop 63 last year, we knew that a gun lobby challenge was inevitable, because the law threatened to cut into gun industry profits. In fact, since the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision DC v. Heller, the gun lobby and its allies have filed over 1000 challenges to smart gun laws on Second Amendment grounds—and lost 94% of them. We have every confidence that today’s flawed decision to block implementation of Prop 63’s limits on large capacity ammunition magazines will be quickly overturned by the Ninth Circuit, which has upheld similar policies at the local level, as have the Second, Fourth, Seventh, and DC Circuits. This specious lawsuit is merely a gun lobby delay tactic, and frankly an affront to the voters in California, who supported Prop 63 by a two-to-one margin because they know these commonsense policies will help keep our communities safer.”

Hannah Shearer, Second Amendment Litigation Director at the Law Center:

“Mass shooters, like the one at a UPS facility in San Francisco just two weeks ago, favor large capacity magazines for their lethal efficiency, and since gunmen don’t have to pause to reload, the presence of these deadly accessories makes it more difficult for law enforcement to stop an attacker. Today two federal courts in California released decisions on challenges to California’s new magazine regulations. The Eastern District rightly recognized that it is constitutionally permissible to limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds in order to stem high-fatality shootings, as has virtually every other court that’s heard similar challenges. The Southern District, however, broke with precedent and the US Supreme Court’s guidance in Heller, putting gun lobby interests ahead of public safety and gravely misinterpreting the Second Amendment.”

About Prop 63 and the Gun Lobby’s Challenges:

The Law Center partnered with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom to draft and advocate for Proposition 63’s bold gun safety reforms, which include a groundbreaking requirement for background checks on ammunition purchases, new measures to ensure felons relinquish their firearms upon conviction, and closed several other deadly loopholes in California law. Today’s injunction only affects the ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The prohibition on these deadly accessories, which are often used in mass shootings like the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary, San Bernardino, and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, was scheduled to go into effect July 1, but that date has been delayed pending an appeal.

Earlier in the day, a similar challenge to Proposition 63’s magazine law, Wiese v. Becerra, was heard by Judge William Shubb, a George H.W. Bush appointee, in California’s Eastern District. Judge Shubb ruled that the law does not violate the Second Amendment, and is not an unlawful government “taking.” With a split in the courts, the case will likely now head to the Ninth Circuit. That federal appeals court previously affirmed a decision upholding the constitutionality of a local ordinance similar to Proposition 63’s magazine law, and is expected to reinstate Prop 63’s magazine limits.

The following experts are available for immediately available for interviews on Proposition 63 and the injunction granted on Thursday:

  • Robyn Thomas, Executive Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

  • Hannah Shearer, Second Amendment Litigation Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, who wrote the Law Center’s amicus brief in the Duncan v. Becerra case

  • Ari Freilich, Director of California Legislative Affairs, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, who drafted much of Prop 63

More Resources from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence on Duncan v. Becerra, Wiese v. Becerra,  and Prop 63:

Speak with an Expert: For additional information, or to be connected to a gun violence prevention expert, contact Garrett McDonough, gmcdonough@smartgunlaws.org917-538-3775