Three gun accessories companies, gun show promoter named in suit for attempting ‘clever end-run’ by selling disassembled but fully functional high-capacity magazines
SAN FRANCISCO (June 10, 2013) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed suit against three gun accessories companies and a gun show promoter for selling disassembled high-capacity magazines in California in violation of a state law that prohibits the sale, manufacture, or import of gun ammunition feeding devices that accept more than 10 rounds. Ostensibly marketed as gun magazine “repair kits” in a barely-disguised attempt to skirt a 14-year-old California gun safety law, the disassembled equipment is intended for easy reassembly by purchasers into complete, fully functional high-capacity magazines that dramatically enhance the lethality of otherwise lawful firearms.
High-capacity magazines, which are designed to allow shooters to fire multiple rounds without stopping to reload, are a favored gun accessory among mass murderers who have relied on the devices’ destructive firepower to perpetrate such high-profile massacres as those at Virginia Tech University in 2007, which resulted in 32 deaths; at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater in 2012, which killed 12 people; and at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school last December, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adult staff members. Herrera’s civil complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning alleges that three online gun equipment distributors and one prominent gun show organizer knowingly aid and abet illegal conduct in the state by marketing “California only” disassembled magazine parts, which at least one defendant wrongly represents as “100% legal.”
“The gun businesses we’ve sued today think they’ve devised a clever end-run around California law by selling fully functional high-capacity magazines that have simply been disassembled into a few easily-reassembled parts,” said Herrera. “Our litigation intends to prove otherwise. California lawmakers enacted smart gun safety precautions to prohibit devices that serve no sporting purpose, and are clearly inappropriate for non-military uses. Our common sense laws balance public safety imperatives with the constitutional rights of responsible gun owners, and they deserve to be aggressively enforced.”
The State of California enacted its prohibition on the sale, manufacture, or import of large-capacity magazines in 1999, declaring the devices to be public nuisances. Lawmakers at the time expressly grandfathered owners of large-capacity magazines possessed before the prohibition took effect on Jan. 1, 2000, allowing for the lawful repair and maintenance of magazines by licensed dealers and gunsmiths. According to Herrera’s complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning, the defendants’ marketing makes clear that their sales of disassembled but brand new magazine parts is an effort to evade California law, wrongly informing consumers in some cases that their products are “100% legal repair/rebuild kits.”
Online vendors named as defendants in Herrera’s civil action are: Harbor, Ore.-based 44Mag Distributing LLC, which operates www.44mag.com; Dallas, Texas-based Exile Machine, LLC, which operates www.exilemachine.com; and Pitsburg, Ohio-based Copes Distributing, Inc., which operates www.copesdistributing.com. Herrera also sued Kaysville, Utah-based B & L Productions, Inc., which hosts gun shows throughout California as “Crossroads of the West Gun Show,” including at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Calif., where large-capacity magazine “repair kits” are typically available for purchase.
Herrera’s lawsuit was investigated and filed by his office’s Consumer Protection Unit, which pursues civil actions under California’s Unfair Competition Law to protect consumers and law-abiding competing businesses from unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices. The unit’s actions are funded by civil recoveries under the provisions of Proposition 64, which California voters enacted in 2004 to direct monetary penalties recovered by government prosecutors to the enforcement of consumer protection laws. If successful, Herrera’s action could result in a court-ordered injunction to immediately prohibit further unlawful conduct by the companies, together with civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each act of unfair competition and legal costs.
The case is: People of the State of California v. 44MAG Distributing LLC et al., San Francisco Superior Court, filed June 10, 2013.
PDF of Herrera’s high-capacity gun ammunition presskit (June 10, 2013)