Attorney General Racine Files Amicus Brief in Defense of California Law Banning Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazines

Brief Says 2nd Amendment Leaves States Room to Implement Reasonable Firearm Regulations

WASHINGTON D.C. – A coalition of 12 states and the District of Columbia, led by D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, today filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to uphold a California ban on the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines for guns. The brief urges the court to overturn a lower court’s order preliminarily enjoining the law, and argues that nothing about the Second Amendment, under Supreme Court precedent, prevents states and the District from enacting reasonable gun regulations.

“The Supreme Court has been clear that the Second Amendment is not a blank check allowing the use of any kind of gun at any time or in any fashion,” Attorney General Racine said. “States like California are within their rights to enact reasonable gun laws, and courts shouldn’t overrule sensible, evidence-based policy decisions that enhance public safety and can save lives.”

The California law bans magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. These large-capacity magazines, or LCMs, are disproportionally used by mass shooters to kill and injure large numbers of people quickly, including law enforcement officers.

“Both common sense and empirical evidence suggest that prohibiting LCMs will reduce the number of crimes in which LCMs are used and reduce the lethality and devastation of gun crime when it does occur,” the brief notes. “At the same time, there is no proof that LCMs are necessary—or even commonly used—for self-defense.”

The brief, available here, underscores that whatever policy judgment an individual state may make, Supreme Court precedent supports a state’s ability to experiment with and reform gun laws. “In dismissing California’s reliance on the empirical and anecdotal evidence before it, the court below applied a cramped and overly demanding standard of what constitutes substantial evidence and eliminated the deference to which California’s predictive judgments are entitled,” the brief says.

In addition to Attorney General Racine, the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington joined the brief.