New Jersey Spearheads Defense of Massachusetts' Assault Weapon and Magazine Bans


Attorney General Matthew Platkin Spearheads Defense of Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazine Bans.

NEW JERSEY STATE - In a significant legal action today, New Jersey's Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin took a leading role in a coalition of 19 jurisdictions to support Massachusetts in a case that could influence national gun control measures. This coalition, represented through an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, defends Massachusetts's stringent gun laws against a challenge based on the Second Amendment.

The focus of this legal battle is Massachusetts's long-standing ban on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines (LCMs), defined as magazines holding more than 10 rounds. These laws mirror similar regulations in New Jersey, where a ban on assault weapons is complemented by a 2018 statute signed by Governor Phil Murphy that limits ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, a reduction from the previous 15-round limit.

“The presence of assault weapons and large capacity magazines in our communities undermines the duties of states to keep their citizens safe from cycles of violence and trauma,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Too many families are left shattered by the senseless carnage these weapons of war create, and I remain committed to defending commonsense firearms safety measures that protect residents in all of our communities.”

The legal argument presented in the amicus brief asserts that these regulations align with a historical precedent of reasonable firearm restrictions in the United States. It emphasizes that assault weapons and LCMs, often selected for their lethal efficiency in mass shootings, do not fall under Second Amendment protections as they are neither commonly used nor suitable for self-defense.

Recent tragic events underscore the relevance of this issue. For instance, last month on April 29, 2024, a mass shooting in South Carolina resulted in the deaths of four law enforcement officers, with the perpetrator using a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle equipped with high-capacity magazines. This incident is cited in the brief to illustrate the potential for such weapons to inflict massive harm when used in crimes.

The brief further argues that states possess the authority to enact laws to enhance public safety by restricting access to weapons and ammunition that pose significant risks to communities. These laws are portrayed as reasonable limitations, akin to historical regulations such as gunpowder storage laws, which were designed to prevent public safety threats from the accumulation of excessive arsenals.

Last year, both Attorney General Platkin and Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell led a similar effort by supporting a Delaware law that restricted access to military-style weapons, indicating a sustained commitment to this cause.

The coalition includes California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

This case not only addresses specific legal statutes but also tests the balance between state rights and federal judicial oversight in the realm of gun control legislation.

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