Duncan v. Becerra: Urging the Ninth Circuit to Reverse a Dangerous, Outlier Ruling on LCMs
Case Information: Duncan et al. v. Becerra et al., No. 19-55376 (9th Cir. amicus brief filed July 22, 2019)
At Issue: For nearly 20 years, California has prohibited the manufacture and sale of large capacity magazines (LCMs) that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. In November 2016, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 63, a package of gun safety laws drafted by Giffords Law Center attorneys in partnership with then-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. One of Prop. 63’s provisions strengthened the state’s LCM laws by prohibiting the possession of LCMs like those used in the San Bernardino and Thousand Oaks mass shootings. Before Prop. 63 took effect, the state affiliate of the NRA brought a Second Amendment challenge to the law, and persuaded a federal district judge to issue an extreme ruling blocking implementation of the law’s LCM provisions and enjoin California’s longstanding restrictions on LCMs. The judge’s unprecedented ruling was a radical departure from settled Second Amendment law, and is now on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that the district court overstepped in disregarding the State’s concerns about mass shootings in favor of the court’s own view of what problems a successful gun-violence-prevention policy should prioritize. In this case, the district court attacked evidence and expert witnesses the State reasonably relied on, while engaging in its own flawed fact-finding to reach a verdict. The lower court acted contrary to Ninth Circuit precedent by failing to defer to the State’s legitimate policy judgments, which were supported by evidence showing that restricting large-capacity magazines would protect the public and reduce mass shooting deaths and injuries. Our brief urges the Ninth Circuit to reverse the decision of the district court and protect the State’s authority to identify and prevent harm to its citizens.