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California lawsuit takes aim at Utah gun show firm

Published June 12, 2013 6:55 am

Courts • The company is accused of letting vendors sell illegal high-capacity magazines.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The city of San Francisco is suing a Utah-based gun show production company for allegedly ignoring and profiting from California's ban on high-capacity magazines — those that can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in San Francisco's Superior Court, also accuses three online gun-accessory companies of peddling brand new, high-capacity magazines in easily assembled pieces by selling them to Californians as "repair kits" without checking whether customers own such magazines that are, in fact, in need of repair.

Kaysville-based company B&L Productions Inc. is accused in the suit of knowingly facilitating such transactions at gun shows it organizes throughout California, including the annual Crossroads of the West show in San Francisco.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who filed the lawsuit, said the companies "think they've devised a clever end-run around California law," and that the Utah company "knowingly profits from this unlawful arms trade" at its shows by allowing vendors to import, display and sell disassembled large-capacity magazines as repair kits.

B&L Productions Inc. declined to comment immediately on the lawsuit.

Herrera has asked the court to impose penalties on each of the defendants that would stop the sale of the repair kits and require them to pay $2,500 for "each of their acts of unlawful and/or unfair competition."

Herrera did not specify how many "acts" each company has allegedly committed.

The online gun-parts companies named in the suit are 44Mag Distributing of Harbor, Ore.; Exile Machine of Dallas; and Cope's Distributing of Greenville, Ohio.

Crossroads of the West is scheduled to hold its next gun show in San Francisco at the end of June. More than a dozen other shows are planned in California through December, according to its website. The company holds gun shows year-round in venues throughout western states, including Utah.

California has had a ban on high-capacity magazines for more than 13 years.

The statute outlaws the manufacture and sale of large-capacity magazines, but not ownership, as California grandfathered in residents who owned such weapons before the law took effect in January 2000.

California is one of seven states, plus the District of Columbia, that outlaw such high-volume magazines. A similar law banning devices that hold 15 rounds or more of ammunition will take effect in Colorado on July 1.

The suit follows closely a failed federal attempt to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that came in response to several mass shootings in which assault weapons with high-capacity magazines were used.

Most recently, gunman Adam Lanza used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to gun down 20 elementary school children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: marissa_jae