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San Francisco city attorney takes aim at five gun companies over alleged sale of high-capacity magazines

San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit Thursday against five gun suppliers, alleging they violated a state law banning the sale of high-capacity magazines by selling them in pieces and marketing them as “repair kits.”

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, alleges that online retailers Badger Mountain Supply of Washington, 7.62 Precision of Alaska, Shooters Plus of Mississippi, LAK Supply of Wyoming and BuyMilsurp.com of Florida are engaged in unfair or fraudulent business practices. The companies did not respond to requests seeking comment Friday morning.

Herrera alleges in court papers that the companies are violating California's ban on high-capacity magazines by marketing and selling them to customers in the state under the guise of repair kits or rebuild kits. The kits are disassembled, but customers can easily put together the high-capacity magazines, according to the lawsuit.

“These kits are not individual magazine parts to replace, say, a worn out spring or a cracked baseplate in a lawfully processed magazine," the lawsuit states. “Rather, they are complete parts of disassembled large-capacity magazines packaged under the guise of a kit. Purchasers can readily assemble the parts into brand-new, fully functional large-capacity magazines.”

The number of rounds held in the magazines ranges from 10 to 150, according to the lawsuit.

Large-capacity magazines, which hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, allow shooters to fire numerous bullets in succession without having to reload. The devices have received significant attention in recent years for their role in several major mass shootings, including last year’s Orlando nightclub shooting, the 2015 Charleston, S.C., church shooting, as well as the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

California has banned the sale of the large-capacity magazines since 2000. In 2013, the state Legislature clarified the law to note that high-capacity magazines also could not be sold in disassembled pieces.

San Francisco strengthened the law locally in 2014, enacting a ban on possessing large-capacity magazines rather than just prohibiting the purchase or sale of them.

In 2016, voters cast their ballots to again toughen California’s gun laws, which are among the most stringent in the nation, with the passage of Proposition 63. Among other regulations, the law will prohibit the possession of large-capacity magazines — with few exceptions — statewide beginning July 1.

“It takes a particular type of miscreant to compromise the safety of Californians simply for profit,” Herrera said in a prepared statement. “The only purpose of these magazines is to kill as many people as quickly as possible. They have no place in our neighborhoods. That’s why the people of California have spoken loud and clear on this.”

The lawsuit is seeking $2,500 in civil penalties for each act of fraudulent competition, the cost of the lawsuit and a court order prohibiting the companies from marketing or selling large-capacity magazine repair kits or other disassembled magazines in California. Herrera is also seeking a court order to require the companies to state on their websites that it is illegal to buy “repair” or “rebuild” kits or any disassembled large-capacity magazine in California, according to the lawsuit.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @HannahFryTCN on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

11:05 a.m.: This article was updated with the number of rounds held in the magazines.

This article was originally published at 10:55 a.m.

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