NJ and MA Attorneys General Spearhead Coalition to Defend State Assault Weapons Bans


In a Bold Legal Move, 20 States Rally Behind California's Assault Weapons Ban, Asserting Second Amendment Compatibility.

New Jersey – New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, in a joint effort with Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell, is leading a coalition of 20 attorneys general to bolster California's assault weapons ban. This collaborative legal initiative, represented through an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, centers around the argument that the regulation of assault weapons is aligned with the principles of the Second Amendment.

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the states' imperative role in safeguarding public welfare against the perils posed by assault weapons. He highlighted the lack of necessity for civilian access to such firearms, aligning with Second Amendment rights. Platkin also noted the increased safety for law enforcement in regions where these weapons are restricted.

“No civilian needs access to an assault weapon in order to exercise their Second Amendment rights," said Attorney General Platkin.

The focal case, Miller v. Bonta, questions the legality of California's assault weapons prohibition. Following a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against the Assault Weapons Control Act, California appealed. The Ninth Circuit's interim stay keeps the law operational pending appeal.

In the brief, the attorneys general present a tripartite argument supporting the constitutionality of California's ban:

  1. Public Safety and Reasonable Restrictions: States have the authority to impose limitations on weapons, accessories, and ammunition that are not essential for self-defense and pose community risks. This includes assault weapons like AR-15 and AK-47-style rifles, which are particularly lethal in mass shootings.
  2. Second Amendment and Self-Defense: Contrary to the District Court's viewpoint, evidence suggests that assault weapons, designed for military use, are unsuitable for self-defense and thus fall outside Second Amendment protection.
  3. Historical Precedent for Weaponry Regulation: The ban aligns with historical practices of regulating potentially dangerous weapons. Historical regulations, such as gunpowder storage laws, have aimed at preventing public safety threats by limiting access to excessive weaponry.

Last month, Attorneys General Platkin and Campbell co-led a similar amicus brief supporting California's regulation of large-capacity magazines. The coalition for the Miller v. Bonta brief includes attorneys general from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

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