Success in Sunnyvale—Another Victory for Gun Safety

Sunnyvale

California leads the nation when it comes to smart gun laws, and the Law Center is proud to have played an essential role in the latest decision handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit upheld a California district court’s decision in Fyock v City of Sunnyvale, concerning a 2013 ballot measure that prohibited the possession of large-capacity magazines within the city limits of Sunnyvale, CA. Voters ushered in Measure C with a decisive 66% of the vote, yet the plaintiffs claimed local regulation of these deadly magazines infringed on their Second Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit found little support for the NRA-backed plaintiffs’ argument that the law violates the Second Amendment, holding that Sunnyvale had presented sufficient evidence to show that the law would likely be found constitutional.

When the gun lobby hired expensive, high-profile Supreme Court litigators to try to overrule Sunnyvale’s voters, we countered by connecting the city with pro bono legal counsel from the highly respected law firm of Farella, Braun + Martel. We also filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit, outlining the many dangers of large capacity magazines (those that can hold more than 10 rounds), which make it easier for criminals to shoot more people more quickly, increasing the number of victims. These magazines are disproportionately used in mass shootings, like those in Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and the 1993 massacre in San Francisco that led to the founding of the Law Center.

The Sunnyvale victory builds on the unprecedented momentum across the country for common sense guns laws that save lives. Just last week, a federal court upheld California’s groundbreaking Unsafe Handgun Act, which keeps junk guns off the market and requires the use of microstamping technology, making it easier for law enforcement to trace crime guns. The decision to uphold this important law will help encourage other states to follow suit. Historic progress is also being made in state legislatures, with 99 new smart gun laws passed in 37 states since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. But there’s still much work to be done, and the Law Center is ready to fight for the rights of communities to legislate their own safety. Join us in the fight against gun violence.

Learn more about the dangers of large capacity ammunition magazines.

Check out the Law Center’s amicus brief in the Sunnyvale case.

Teixeira v. County of Alameda: Amicus Brief in Support of Ordinance Keeping Gun Dealers Away from Schools and Sensitive Areas

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Case information: Teixeira, et al. v. County of Alameda, et al., No. 13-17132 (9th Cir., amicus brief filed August 15, 2014)

At Issue: This case involves a constitutional challenge to an Alameda County, California ordinance which requires—among other things—firearms dealers be located at least 500 feet away from school zones, other gun dealers, and residential areas.  Plaintiffs, three individual California residents along with various pro-firearm organizations, argue that the ordinance violates the Second Amendment by making it overly difficult to sell guns in Alameda County, despite the fact that at least twenty dealers already operate in the area.  The district court upheld the ordinance as a constitutional regulation of the commercial sale of firearms, and plaintiffs are now appealing that decision in the Ninth Circuit.

The Law Center’s Brief: Our Ninth Circuit brief, joined by Youth ALIVE!, argues that that the Alameda County ordinance does not violate the Second Amendment as it is part of a historic tradition of regulating the commercial sale of firearms, which the U.S. Supreme Court has expressly recognized as “presumptively lawful.”  Moreover, the ordinance places no burden on the Second Amendment right to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense as the ordinance in no way prohibits firearms dealers or the purchase of firearms.  Finally, the brief argues that even under intermediate scrutiny—the level of judicial review overwhelming applied to Second Amendment claims—the ordinance is valid because it is reasonably related to Alameda County’s important interest of protecting public safety.

The Ninth Circuit takes on the Second Amendment

(Update: The Ninth Circuit has posted audio of the arguments in Peruta v. County of San Diego, Richards v. Prieto, and Baker v. Kealoha.)

This Thursday, December 6th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will consider an issue of critical importance to the safety of our communities: whether the Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry a concealed, loaded handgun in public places.

Three cases being heard on Thursday morning involve challenges to state laws in California and Hawaii that require an applicant for a concealed carry license to show a legitimate need to carry a weapon.

We’ve been supporting defense counsel with our Second Amendment expertise because we know how important these cases are. Favorable decisions here could reaffirm law enforcement’s ability to protect public safety by limiting the number of people carrying hidden, loaded handguns in California and Hawaii.

The three cases being heard by the Ninth Circuit are Peruta v. County of San Diego (challenging San Diego County’s application of the California law), Richards v. Prieto (challenging Yolo County’s application of the same law), and Baker v. Kealoha (challenging Hawaii’s law).

For more about these cases, read our amicus briefs in Peruta and Richards. If you live in the Bay Area, oral arguments are open to the public, and the Ninth Circuit courthouse is located at 95 7th Street in San Francisco. On Friday, audio and video of the arguments will be available on the Ninth Circuit’s web site.

These cases will undoubtedly have nationwide significance in this emerging area of Second Amendment jurisprudence. The Second Circuit recently upheld New York’s discretionary concealed carry law in a great decision, and similar cases are also pending in the Third and Fourth Circuits.

Law Center Files Amicus Brief in Important Ninth Circuit Second Amendment Case

States that have strong laws regulating the carrying of concealed weapons currently face a number of significant lawsuits challenging these laws on Second Amendment grounds. On September 30, the Law Center urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject a Second Amendment challenge to California’s concealed carry law in an amicus brief in Richards v. PrietoRichards is the second of a number of similar challenges to laws nationwide to be reviewed by a federal appellate court, following Peruta v. County of San Diego.

The Law Center’s brief was joined by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. The brief urges the Ninth Circuit to find that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to possess a loaded, hidden handgun in public, and that the California law is vital to protect the safety of law enforcement and the general public. The Law Center is very grateful to Covington & Burling LLP for authoring the brief.

Law Center Files Amicus Brief in Critical Ninth Circuit Second Amendment Litigation

In states like California, where the gun lobby has failed to weaken concealed weapons licensing laws in the legislature, it now seeks to overturn those laws in the courts. The Law Center recently urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject a Second Amendment challenge to California’s concealed carry law in an amicus brief filed on August 19 in Peruta v. County of San Diego. The Peruta case is the first of a number of similar challenges to laws nationwide to be reviewed by a federal appellate court.

Joined by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, the Law Center’s brief urges the Ninth Circuit to find that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to possess a loaded, hidden handgun in public, and that the California law is vital to protect the safety of law enforcement and the general public. The Law Center is very grateful to Covington & Burling LLP for authoring the brief.

Bill Banning Open Carry of Handguns Passes California Assembly

Yesterday, the Law Center’s-supported bill AB 144 (Portantino) overwhelmingly passed the California Assembly. The bill would prohibit the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public places, and has received support from law enforcement statewide. Open carrying intimidates the public, wastes law enforcement resources, and increases the risk of injury and death due to the accidental or intentional use of firearms.

AB 144 now proceeds to the State Senate. For more on California firearms legislation, read our Summary of 2011 California Firearms Legislation.

Federal Court Rejects Second Amendment Challenge to Concealed Handgun Licensing Law

In another victory yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California upheld Yolo County’s application of California’s concealed carry licensing law, which requires an applicant for a license to demonstrate “good cause.”

In Richards v. Prieto, the district court soundly rejected the plaintiffs’ interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, stating that “Heller cannot be read to invalidate Yolo County’s concealed weapon policy, as the Second Amendment does not create a fundamental right to carry a concealed weapon in public.” The court concluded that “regulating concealed firearms is an essential part of Yolo County’s efforts to maintain public safety and prevent both gun-related crime and, most importantly, the death of its citizens.”

The Law Center congratulates Yolo County on this important ruling. The Law Center is proud to have supported the County during this litigation, providing technical expertise and support during the briefing process. Plaintiffs have appealed the Richards decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Law Center expects to file an amicus brief in support of the County in those proceedings.

Second Amendment Victory: Ninth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Alameda County Ordinance

Yesterday, May 2, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced its latest decision in Nordyke v. King, a suit brought by a gun show promoter challenging an Alameda County ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms or ammunition on County-owned property. In its opinion, the Ninth Circuit held that the ordinance does not “substantially burden” the Second Amendment, an argument made in the Law Center’s amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit last year. The Law Center will continue to support Alameda County as the case heads back to the district court.

With yesterday’s decision, the Nordyke panel joins the numerous courts that have rejected Second Amendment challenges nationwide. The message is clear: common sense firearms laws remain constitutional.