Update — On July 17, 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit narrowly affirmed the preliminary injunction blocking implementation of California’s LCM possession ban. However, the appeals court did not decide the merits of the constitutional challenge, and found only that the district court’s preliminary decision was not an abuse of discretion. California’s law remains on hold pending a decision by the district court on whether to grant a permanent injunction and the Ninth Circuit’s resolution of an appeal of that decision.
Case Information: Duncan v. Becerra, No. 17-56081 (Ninth Circuit brief filed Oct. 19, 2017).
At Issue: Last November, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 63, a package of smart gun laws drafted by Giffords Law Center attorneys in partnership with California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. One of Prop. 63’s reforms closes a loophole in the state’s gun laws by prohibiting the possession of large capacity magazines (LCMs) capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. As Prop. 63’s effective date approached, gun lobby groups brought a constitutional challenge to the law, and persuaded a federal district judge to block implementation of the law’s LCM provisions pending a final decision on their challenge. The judge’s decision to block Prop. 63’s LCM provisions was an extreme departure from settled Second Amendment law, and the state immediately appealed the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom joined Giffords Law Center in submitting an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit in support of Prop. 63. Our brief argued that the court should follow its own Second Amendment precedents, and the US Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, and allow Prop. 63’s LCM provisions to take effect. Our joint brief explained the critical need to close the LCM possession loophole and halt proliferation and use of military-grade magazines by criminals and mass shooters, including the shooter who recently used LCMs to murder 58 people in Las Vegas. Our brief argues that the Second Amendment plainly does not protect magazines that are unnecessary for self-defense and the favored tool of mass killers, and explains that the state of California has presented more than adequate evidence showing that the LCM restrictions will reduce the number of lives lost during mass shootings.