In what was an expected move echoing other suits around the country, lawyers for the National Rifle Association sued the city of Sunnyvale on Tuesday, arguing that new gun laws restricting the ownership of large capacity guns violate the Second Amendment.
By allowing residents and Sunnyvale visitors to only possess firearms with reduced capacity magazines, the suit alleges that the city "unconstitutionally limits the number of rounds that its law abiding residents will have to protect themselves."
Specifically, the San Jose-based federal lawsuit filed by Chuck Michel in Long Beach, the NRA's West Coast counsel, alleges that magazines holding more than 10 rounds are standard equipment for many popular pistols and rifles. And a majority of pistols in the United States, the suit continues, are manufactured and sold with magazines holding between 10 and 17 rounds.
Plaintiffs Leonard Fyock, Scott Hochstetler, William Douglas, David Pearson, Brad Seifers and Rod Swanson, all Sunnyvale gun owners, are arguing that the new law will "endanger public safety by giving violent criminals an advantage and decreasing the likelihood that a victim will survive a criminal attack."
The suit names the city and mayor of Sunnyvale Anthony Spitaleri, along with and Frank Grgurina, police chief for Sunnyvale's Department of Public Safety for Sunnyvale. They are being represented pro bono by the San Francisco-based firm Farella Braun and Martel, where attorney Tony Schoenberg is also defending an earlier lawsuit filed Dec. 10 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and U.S. Firearms, a gun store in Sunnyvale arguing that firearms dealers shouldn't have to register the names of people buying ammunition.
"It was expected but certainly, no lawsuit is welcome," Spitaleri told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday. "They are just claiming everything is unconstitutional. But they are all over the map. They're looking for anything and are saying anything."
Sunnyvale residents passed Measure C in November with 67 percent of the vote, and a portion of the law requires owners of such magazines to remove these large capacity weapons from the city, sell them outside California or to a licensed gun dealer, or give them up to police for destruction within 90 days.
The ordinance took effect on Dec. 6 and will give residents until March 6 to turn in their gun magazines to police.
While the NRA claims that is unfair, Spitaleri says he's just trying to close the loophole between not being able to buy such magazines, and own such magazines. The former is illegal, and currently, the latter is legal, which Spitaleri thinks is ridiculous.
This suit in Sunnyvale follows on the heels of the NRA-backed San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association challenging San Francisco’s recent ban on the possession of magazines in excess of 10 rounds.
In Colorado, a broad coalition of law enforcement officials filed suit against that state's recently enacted ban on common gun magazines.
Earlier this year in New York, the State Sheriffs Association, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and individual law enforcement officers filed an amicus brief in support of a challenge to the State's ban on rifles and magazines in excess of 10 rounds.