Dennis Herrera, c Fog City Journal

The state of California has some of the most draconian gun laws on the books, including an extremely restrictive “assault weapons” ban and magazine capacity limitations. Sale of new “high capacity” magazines has been illegal there for years, but companies in California still produce repair kits intended to allow those who own grandfathered magazines to fix them and keep them running. Apparently this has angered Dennis Herrera, the city attorney in San Fransisco, and he’s now suing the companies that produce these kits. Let me restate that: a government employee is using taxpayer funds to sue companies that have done nothing illegal. Make the jump for the press release . . .

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.

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54 Responses to San Fransisco City Attorney Sues Gun Companies for Legal Activities

  1. “high cap mags are a favored accessory among mass murderers”. Oh boy. And Hitler ate sugar.

    Cops, soldiers, marines, and ranchers like them too. Surely by this logic, the good guys favoring them should outweigh a small number of loonies using them (of course in San Fran they probably consider ranchers to be mass murderers, too).

    In any case…how many times can I say it, up their shoulders in bullshit and they can’t smell it.

      • It never had one thing to do with logic. Or anything of the sort. That’s just for the news crews and public consumption.
        ‘Twas ever thus for politicians on the make. Maybe such jobs should be unpaid, and filled through conscription. Profiting in any way whatsoever during one’s two-year term of service is punishable by public execution. You want to stimulate the economy? Public executions of public figures are the ticket! The price of admission! The tee shirts!! The concessions money… BABY RUTH MAN!?

        We could at least form an “exploratory committee”, and then, after sixty days, execute THEM publicly, as a trial balloon.

    • I’m confident mass murderers enjoy cake and ice cream too. Better lock up anyone trying to purchase those items.

  2. Well, other than supposedly the California DOJ issued a letter saying these are legal (according to the site, link to letter: http://cdn.44mag.com/downloads/pdf/doj.pdf ) he doesn’t appear to be wrong, at least one of the sites say these things are just disassembled magazines: http://www.44mag.com/product/california_large_capacity_magazine_repair_parts_kits/s

    I think they would have been safer if they had left out at least one part, perhaps sold the magazine body separately.

    • You are correct. The distributors asked and received letters stating it was legal. This is why this is being tried in civil court not criminal court. My only hope is that these get tossed since they have no basis. This is a clear case of greasing the skids for Skinner’s bill, which would in fact outlaw rebuild kits. Everyone involved is following the law to a T, and San Francisco doesn’t like it…

      • The thing is, the linked letter actually says in a couple of places that bringing in all the parts for a magazine and assembling it COULD be considered manufacturing and the person doing so COULD be charged with a felony. It basically states that it is up to the county prosecutors interpretation of the law.

        I am really surprised that these distributors sell a complete kit like that tho. Prudence would say that you sell all the parts except the body, and maybe also sell the body separately. Although if you don’t sell the body at all then it is unquestionably ‘for repair only’.

        • Yes, but it would be manufacturing by the recipient, not by the parts supplier. And as it is, it is illegal to assemble these parts into a 10+ mag unless you already possess a grandfathered 20 or 30 round magazine. Thus what we see is that the City Attorney is seeking to enjoin a legal activity because it would prevent the purchaser from conducting an illegal activity. If the theory were upheld, then alcohol sales could be enjoined because someone might buy the alcohol and drive drunk.

          And then it may all be moot anyway by the end of the year, if the legislature passes a rebuild kit ban and the governor signs it into law. So why he is bringing the action seems to be more politics than anything else.

          I also question what authority the City Attorney as t bring an action on behalf of the state, as opposed to merely the City and County of San Francisco. I suspect this may have been done in an attempt to try to keep the case out of federal court.

        • @Mark N:

          You have some good points there (oddly enough there is no ‘reply’ link on your reply so I have to reply to myself to reply to you). Although I suspect somebody exporting complete disassembled magazines into California could be held to be violating the law regarding exporting complete assembled magazines into California as well, in intent if nothing else.

        • Fortunately, LS, you’re wrong. There’s no basis for prosecuting based on intent, only on actually committing a crime. The phrase you’re looking for is “constructive possession” and because CA law allows for possession of magazine parts, there’s no constructive possession.

          Sure, if you ordered in 100 PMAG rebuild kits, reassembled them, and sold them at a gun show, THEN they could possibly prove intent and justify charges for the act of importation (i.e. intent) even though they came in as rebuild kits. But you’d have to actually commit a crime downstream of importation (manufacturing and/or selling illegal magazines) for that to have a chance in hell of standing up in court.

  3. Idiot has nothing better to do.

    Its not illegal (at the moment) to own or purchse a repair kit. Even converting it to a 10/30 is legal in CA (at the moment).

    • It’s clearly got Herrera chewing on the furniture in frustration that he hasn’t been able to prosecute even a single headline-worthy case of a gun owner being busted for illegal manufacturing and/or possession. A big part of that is that the state faces, in virtually all cases, an almost impossible burden of proof that the owner of a full-capacity magazine is not legally entitled to own said magazine.

      This is the game plan in CA, by the way — go after the supply chain, intimidate perfectly lawful businesses and consumers and produce a chilling effect on the marketplace, and thereby make it effectively impossible to engage in 100% legal activities.

      Note that one of the magazine bills slouching its way through Sacramento right now would ban magazines purely based on whether they appear to be capable of holding >10 rounds. Which is every 10-round-limited handgun magazine ever made for double-stack semi-autos, effectively banning handgun magazines.

      So, yeah, good times.

  4. The rule of law is dead in this country. We now have elected (congresstraitors) and unelected bureaucrat tyrants ruling us.

    • Technical correction: the rule of common law is dead in this country. I suppose we could also say that another aspect of the rule of law is dead: that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land and state constitutions are the supreme law of each state.

      For anyone who is not aware, we can sum up common law pretty well in the simple sentence, “An it harm none, do what ye will.” For anyone who doesn’t understand Middle English, we can say in modern English, “Do whatever you want as long as you do not harm anyone.” The trouble is, there are lots of laws that have nothing to do with harm to someone. For example a citizen who carries a concealed handgun (in a properly fitting holster that covers the trigger) into a school — and keeps their hands off the gun/holster — harms no one and yet it is illegal in about 47 states. The laws that criminalize safe concealed carry in schools have no basis in common law and should not exist. Further, those laws violate the clear language of almost every state’s constitution and the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thus those laws and null and void as if they never existed. And yet law enforcement officers will enforce them. That is the problem.

  5. And you know…I object to his using “The People of the State of California” as the name of the plaintiff. I’m for the time being one of those people, and I don’t think this clown should be wasting my tax money fighting his battle to make California more of an overregulated (and expensive) craphole than it already is.

  6. I think that if ALL gun and ammunition companies refused to sell any/all components to California, then as PD’s could not get ammo nor parts nor weapons then maybe, just maybe, they would then think about making some changes. This would not have to be a long term project, just long enough for the California legislature to realize that if the the public cannot get any thing that the PD’s get then nobody gets anything.

    This may just be a pipe dream of mine, but, “what is good for the goose, it is good for the gander”. I think that as soon as law enforcement starts running out of ammo and replacement weapons then THEY will force California’s hand to change the law. It all comes down to supply and demand.

    “just an idea that may help Californians”.

      • I would sure hope that is the problem, as it happened on NYS with the safe act, they–the law makers— forgot to exempt the LEO’s.

        Was that smart??? I think that Californians law makers are even more stupid in trying to “Go One Better Than NYS” and make even less enforceable laws.

  7. Nick, if you’re going to fight for gun rights, learn to spell San Francisco. This topic is too important to give the other side another reason to think we’re uneducated.

  8. After reading “….and are clearly inappropriate for non-military uses”, I got to wondering if Bay Area cops/ sherrif departments use any “High -capacity magazines.” Cause you know, THEY (Police) ARE NOT MILITARY, and applying his logic, have no need for the “high-capacity” mags.

    Either way, Herrera is off his rocker. Again. Still.

    • “….and are clearly inappropriate for non-military uses”

      This really seems like a stupid argument, and I’m surprised that no one has thrown it in their faces yet.

      There’s zero reason to restrict weapons to civilians that are appropriate for military use.

      According to Miller:
      – The weapons protected by the 2A are those appropriate for use in a militia.
      – A militia is, ‘a body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.’
      – Militia members, ‘were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.’

      It should be entirely arguable in Federal court that these weapons are protected for keeping/bearing by the common citizen specifically because they are appropriate for military use.

      Or am I missing something?

  9. More backdoor gun control from San Francisco. So tell me, San Franciscans, aren’t you tired of getting back-doored by your government?

  10. Isn’t there a bill in CA to ban possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds? Is this lawsuit a signal that the bill’s chances of becoming law are uncertain at this point, or is the city attorney seeking publicity while he still can?

    • You are indeed correct; a bill is pending that would ban all magazines “capable” of holding more than 10 rounds, and would remove the grandfathering for “pre-ban” “large capacity” magazines that are currently legal to possess. It has passed one house and is on to the other, where its passage is pretty much assured. How it will fare on the Governor’s desk is unknown; Brown plays all of these issues very close to the vest.

  11. Well my disassembled fully functional motorcycle is sitting in the garage and I’ve decided to drink a sixer. Somebody take my bike keys so I don’t attemp to drin and ride.

  12. This dickhead (see what I did there) is just upping his noteriety to run for higher office (ie, after kamala harris runs for something). Crush the bastard!

  13. Anyone who wishes to express their displeasure with Mr. Herrera’s decision should consider contacting him/his office via the following methods:

    Twitter: @SFCityAttorney
    Phone: (415) 554-4695
    Email: cityattorney@sfgov.org
    Snail Mail:
    Office of the City Attorney
    City Hall, Room 234
    1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
    San Francisco, CA 94102-4682

  14. Is the same SF Sheriff who had his guns taken away after a female neighbor (a woman who worked on his election campaign) convinced his foreign born wife to file a domestic violence statement? He allegedly grabbed his wife’s arm during a shouting match and the wife later said the DV statement was being taken out of context and blown out of proportion. SF is well SF. No other place like it. There are many extremists living in the SF Bay Area who treat politics like their religion since they are often professed atheists.

    • There’s nothing wrong with being an atheist, and it’s unfair to say that atheism has anything to do with one’s political views.

      Besides, Aharon, you really need to step up your game if you’re going to go trolling. You might as well include sexual orientation, ethnic group and gender along with politics and religion if you’re going to go for the gold…

    • The Sheriff was indeed charged with DV–which were plead down to a misdemeanor so that he would not lose his right to bear arms. (He is an elected official and a civilian who is not a certified LEO). But the Sheriff has nothing to do with the City Attorney, so the point of your comment is unclear. In any case, he left bruises on her arm, and under California law, that is enough to sustain a conviction. There was a lot of outrage when he skated, and even then the Mayor tried to get him fired for cause.

  15. California is financially broke, because it’s morally and ethically broke.
    Destroying a handful of companies operating within the law is just the
    immoral bread and circuses to divert the attention of the puling masses
    who haven’t figured out it’s broke, or are content in not knowing it is.
    Ignorance is bliss.

    • Actually, with quiet resolve, Brown has put together a budget with a $1 Bln surplus. Despite being a Democrat, he is a fiscal conservative.

  16. Anyone who states they want to “balance” a right needs to be removed from public office. Unfortunately that is probably impossible in SF. What they mean by balance is actually infringe and destroy.

  17. “High-capacity magazines…are a favored gun accessory among mass murderers…”

    They mention 3 (three) mass shootings in the press release. Favored among 3 mass-shooters (none of whom committed a crime in CA)…and favored by the owners of over 2.5 million other ARs NOT used in any mass shootings. If I am conservative and say that’s “only” 1 million AR owners…the mass shooters comprise .000003% of the group.

    So they’re writing laws that will restrict 99.999997% law abiding people of the affected group. Nice.

  18. Yeah California chase more businesses and tax revenue out of your state. Is it me or is every law they pass designed to kill private enterprise?

  19. San Francisco inaugurated my personal boycott list many years ago when they stopped (or tried to stop) fleet week. I see nothing’s changed.

  20. One day, the actions of these socialist-nationalists will reach that critical point where the people of this country will once again stand up against this tyranny. History does repeat itself, and it will happen. Unfortunately, it may take a few years. When this happens, though, I expect to see this guy sitting in a prison cell after having faced a reconstructed criminal justice system that is once again honest, fair, and true to the constitution. Our job today is to not forget this, for we do not want him to slip through the cracks when his party loses its hold on our country.

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