Attorney General Bonta Leads 17 Attorneys General in Defense of Hawaii’s Ban on Butterfly Knives
Urges Ninth Circuit to rehear panel decision invalidating the ban
News Release from California Attorney General,Tuesday, October 3, 2023
OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a multistate coalition in support of Hawaii’s request to the Ninth Circuit to rehear an appeal defending Hawaii’s ban on butterfly knives. The petition seeks a full en banc review of a panel opinion issued in Teter v. Lopez on August 7, 2023 that invalidated Hawaii’s butterfly knife ban, holding it violates the Second Amendment. In the amicus brief, the coalition argues that the panel’s failure to remand the case after New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (Bruen) is inconsistent with the approach taken in most other appeals involving Second Amendment challenges in the same posture and that the panel’s application of Bruen is flawed.
“Our coalition has filed an amicus brief in support of Hawaii’s petition for rehearing in Teter v. Lopez,” said Attorney General Bonta. “It is crucial that the courts apply a consistent standard when evaluating Second Amendment challenges to protect and uphold the rights of every American and safeguard the ability of states to enact commonsense gun laws. We stand with Hawaii in seeking further reconsideration by the Ninth Circuit. We will continue to defend constitutional and sensible regulations that protect the public from harm, as well as states’ ability to enact such protections.”
In Hawaii, it is a misdemeanor to manufacture, sell, transport, or possess a butterfly knife, a type of knife where a split handle can fully encase the blade and then rotate open to expose the blade. In 2019, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the law, arguing it violated their Second Amendment. The district court granted Hawaii’s motion for summary judgment in 2020, to which plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit. After the Supreme Court issued Bruen in June 2022, Hawaii filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit to vacate the decision below and remand the case to the district court to consider the implications of the Bruen decision in the first instance, or, in the alternative, to order supplemental briefing. In August 2022, a motions panel denied the motion to vacate and remand and directed the parties to file supplemental briefs within 30 days.
In the amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general:
Provides examples of the extensive historical analysis typically conducted on remand in post-Bruen cases.
Identifies how the panel’s legal errors are inconsistent with Bruen, including its discussion about the plain meaning of the term “arms” and its misguided approach to the historical analysis.
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.
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BACKGROUND: Court: Hawaii Butterfly Knife Ban Violates Second Amendment