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AG Platkin leads states in defending Massachusetts’s gun laws

States Have Authority to Restrict Assault Weapons, LCMs

NEW JERSEY — New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin Tuesday led a multistate amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in support of Massachusetts, which is defending its commonsense gun safety laws from a Second Amendment challenge.

The amicus brief, joined by 18 other jurisdictions, urges the court to allow the state’s decades-old ban on the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCMs) to stand.

New Jersey and Massachusetts have long had similar commonsense gun safety measures in place. Massachusetts prohibits the sale and possession of LCMs, defined as ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and assault weapons. New Jersey bans assault weapons and in 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law lowering LCMs to 10 rounds, down from 15.

“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,” Platkin said. “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 amicus brief argues that Massachusetts’ statutes are well within the country’s tradition of reasonable firearm regulations and that assault weapons and LCMs are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are not weapons commonly used or suitable for self and defense.

Assault weapons equipped with LCMs are the weapon of choice in mass shootings, defined as where four or more fatalities take place. Just last month, on April 29, 2024, four law enforcement officers were slain by a suspect in South Carolina, and a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, a .40 caliber handgun, and additional magazines and ammunition were recovered at the scene.

The amicus brief notes that states are well within their rights to impose laws to prevent these kinds of tragedies:

  1. To encourage public safety, states can and do impose restrictions on dangerous weapons, accessories, and ammunition that pose a threat to communities: States have widely adopted reasonable restrictions on the public carry, possession, and sale of many types of weapons, accessories, and forms of ammunition that are not suitable for self-defense and undermine the public’s safety. Semiautomatic assault weapons, such as AR-15 and AK-47-style rifles, fall into this category. They inflict catastrophic injuries and are uniquely devastating in mass shootings. Common-sense assault weapons restrictions are intended to reduce these senseless injuries and deaths.
  2. Assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are not commonly used or suitable for self-defense: There is an abundance of incontrovertible evidence that assault weapons were designed and engineered for military combat, and to create as many devastating injuries and deaths in as quickly as possible.
  3. Massachusetts’s assault weapons law is consistent with a historical tradition of regulating and imposing restrictions on new and distinctively dangerous forms of weaponry: There is longstanding tradition of firearm regulation that supports this prohibition. For example, historical gunpowder storage laws and other rules and regulations were explicitly intended to prevent threats to public safety by limiting the aggregation of arsenals far beyond what would be sufficient for self-defense. States and the federal government have long had to adopt laws and regulations to cope with new weapons technologies that create public safety threats if there is no valid purpose for their usage in self-defense.

In 2023, Attorney General Platkin and Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell led an amicus curiae brief supporting a similar Delaware statute, which had oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on March 11, 2024.

The following jurisdictions joined New Jersey in this brief: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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