Friday, June 2, 2017

SFALP Students Instrumental in Gun Safety Settlement

Students from the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Clinic (SFALP) at Yale Law School were instrumental in a recent case that ended with five online gun equipment suppliers agreeing to stop selling and advertising large-capacity firearm magazines to customers in California. The lawsuit made clear that under the leadership of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the City of San Francisco will continue to take serious steps to protect its residents from gun violence.

Large-capacity magazines are military-style ammunition holders that allow shooters to fire dozens of bullets without reloading, making guns significantly more lethal. Large-capacity magazines have been used in numerous mass shootings, including the tragedies in Newtown, San Bernardino, and Orlando.

The May settlement includes a stringent 10-year, court-imposed injunction prohibiting these suppliers from flouting both state and San Francisco law by offering for sale complete but disassembled large-capacity magazines as “repair” or “rebuild” kits to customers in California and San Francisco, according to the lawsuit. Defendants will also face a number of other court-ordered restrictions on their business practices to help ensure that their products do not enter California.

The case was initiated after a student in the clinic found several companies skirting established laws by selling these illegal weapons in the state under the guise of “repair kits,” according to the lawsuit. California and San Francisco law not only ban large-capacity magazines, but also explicitly prohibit such magazines whether assembled or disassembled.

After pitching the lawsuit, SFALP students were able to assist lawyers in the City Attorney's Office throughout the entire process. They developed the idea for the lawsuit, compiled evidence, and drafted a complaint. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the People of the State of California in February 2017. As the case proceeded, students assisted with pre-trial motions, discovery requests, and research that fed into settlement negotiations. The full details of the settlement of the case can be found here.

Students said this case was critically important because enforcing existing gun safety laws helps reduce gun violence and saves lives. Furthermore, by filing this lawsuit now, City Attorney Dennis Herrera demonstrated that his office will persist in efforts to push for and enforce smart gun laws even in the midst of a potential rollback of federal gun safety laws.

The San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project (SFALP) is a partnership between Yale Law School and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. SFALP students work with San Francisco Deputy City Attorneys to conceive, develop, and litigate some of the most innovative public-interest lawsuits in the country—lawsuits that tackle problems with local dimensions but national effects.