Home>Articles>AG Rob Bonta, Walmart Reach Settlement Over Brass Knuckles Sales In California

Attorney General Rob Bonta. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

AG Rob Bonta, Walmart Reach Settlement Over Brass Knuckles Sales In California

Bonta is ‘strongly considering a run for Governor in 2026’

By Evan Symon, May 23, 2023 5:45 pm

Attorney General Rob Bonta, in conjunction with District Attorneys from three counties, announced on Tuesday that they had reached a $500,000 settlement with Walmart over the sale of brass knuckles on their website.

According to the Attorney General’s office, Walmart had been selling the weapon, mostly through third party vendors, on their website for years. The retailer had sold around 250 products that could be classified as the illegal weapon, with roughly 60% being sold directly by Walmart, and 40% by third party vendors.

As “offering or exposing for sale brass knuckles” is illegal under state law and carries penalties as severe as a year in prison, California filed a suit, The People of the State of California V. Walmart. Joining Bonta and the California Department of Justice were District Attorneys from three Counties where brass knuckles were sold: Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko, and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

Rather than protract the case out in court, Walmart instead agreed agreed to a settlement following the filing of the suit and the conclusion of the DOJ investigation. According to the settlement, Walmart will:

  • Pay $125,000 to DOJ as well as each of the three district attorneys’ Offices — for a total of $500,000 — in civil penalties and costs;
  • Be prohibited from selling brass knuckles on its website;
  • Be required to prohibit third-party sellers from offering or exposing for sale or selling illegal weapons on its platform;
  • Be required to implement and maintain policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent sales of illegal weapons by third-party sellers;
  • Be required to provide a mechanism on each individual product page to allow customers to report the offering or exposing for sale or sale of unlawful weapons to California;
  • Be required to take reasonable steps to identify California consumers who have purchased unlawful weapons from Walmart and send a notice to those consumers notifying them that the item may be unlawful and that they may contact their local law enforcement agency for information on how to properly surrender the item; and
  • Be required to provide compliance reports for five years on a semi-annual basis for the first year and on an annual basis thereafter.

A $500,000 Walmart settlement

Bonta and the three DA’s announced the settlement by Walmart on Tuesday, saying that the settlement was a big step forward in making it clear that illegal weapons should not be sold in the state.

“Illegal weapons have no place in California,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta on Tuesday. “The settlement we have reached with Walmart makes crystal clear that online retailers are responsible for what they are allowing to be offered for sale in our state. I’d like to thank the legal team from our Consumer Protection Section as well as Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, and Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko for their partnership.”

Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira added that “Brass knuckles sold online are just as dangerous to our community as if they were sold from a store counter. Online retailers must put safety over profits. We are encouraged by the steps taken by Walmart as a result of our investigation and confident that today’s agreement will put an end to future sales.”

However, while most were in favor of the move, especially law enforcement groups who could be threatened by suspects with the weapon, many noted that Bonta likely had another motive for having a huge announcement despite it coming down to only half a million dollars in fines.

“He recently said that he is strongly considering a run for Governor in 2026,” noted former speechwriter Rita McDonald in a Globe interview on Tuesday. “He is still doing his job, and helping remove a route of sale for an already illegal thing does look good. But things like this are generally small potatoes and he is instead pushing it up to sound like it was a gigantic settlement. In reality, Walmart made a mistake and is now rectifying it. If it was big, we’d see fines in the millions. Instead, the DOJ is only seeing $125,000 as part of their part of it and Walmart otherwise getting a slap on the wrist.”

“Bonta and other candidates will be testing the waters throughout the next few years, with the candidates giving out more press releases as part of their job to help show all the work they’ve been doing. This was an important settlement, but at the same time, it has those ‘will be running, I want to look good’ vibes to it.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Walmart denied all wrongdoing, but settled as it was “In the best interest of all parties.”

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Evan Symon
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3 thoughts on “AG Rob Bonta, Walmart Reach Settlement Over Brass Knuckles Sales In California

  1. Bonta sure put a stop to all those brass knuckle crimes that were all over the news. Good job Bonta!! How many “knuckles” did Walmart sell “…on their website for years…”? What a ponce.

    1. So, you want Walmart to sell brass knuckles? I see. And what crime do you plan to commit while using them?

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