Skip to content

Victory for Gun Safety in the Courts: First Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Rhode Island’s Life-Saving Law Restricting Large-Capacity Magazines 


Everytown Law, the nation’s largest team of gun violence prevention litigators, applauds yesterday’s decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upholding Rhode Island’s law restricting large-capacity magazines in Ocean State Tactical v. Rhode Island.

The case centered on a Second Amendment challenge to Rhode Island’s 2022 law prohibiting possession of large-capacity magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition – which are frequently used in the deadliest mass shootings.

“The First Circuit’s decision upholding Rhode Island’s common-sense law is a victory for gun safety and will undoubtedly keep communities safer,” said William Taylor, Deputy Director of Second Amendment Litigation at Everytown Law. “It marks the second major decision on this issue since the Supreme Court decided Bruen—following November’s decision from the Seventh Circuit upholding state and local restrictions on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in Illinois. This serves as further proof that laws prohibiting these instruments of mass violence are consistent with the Second Amendment. They are rightly being upheld by courts across the country.”

Notably, the decision reads: 

“It is fair to assume that our founders were, by and large, rational. To conclude that the Second Amendment allows banning sawed-off shotguns, Bowie knives, and M-16s — but not LCMs used repeatedly to facilitate the murder of dozens of men, women, and children in minutes — would belie that assumption. Accordingly, it should not be surprising that Bruen’s guidance in this case leads us to conclude that HB 6614 is likely both consistent with our relevant tradition of gun regulation and permissible under the Second Amendment.”

Last summer, Everytown filed an amicus brief in the First Circuit arguing that Rhode Island’s restriction is constitutional under the approach to Second Amendment cases set out in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen. The brief can be found here.

From 2015 to 2022, shootings with four or more people killed where large-capacity magazines were used resulted in nearly five times as many people shot, more than twice as many people killed, and nearly 10 times as many people wounded per incident, on average. Additionally, in that time period, at least eight of the ten deadliest mass shootings involved a large-capacity magazine. 

To date, 14 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws to prohibit large-capacity magazines. These laws were repeatedly upheld by federal courts in the fourteen years between the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which first held that there is an individual right under the Second Amendment, and its June 2022 decision in Bruen. Courts applying Bruen have continued to uphold them since – including the only two federal courts of appeals to consider this issue (the First and Seventh Circuits) and federal district courts in Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington.  

To speak with an expert at Everytown Law, please contact