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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
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~ Herring joins a 16 state coalition in filing an amicus brief arguing that the Second Amendment permits reasonable gun safety laws ~

RICHMOND (November 2, 2018) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 16 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia to defend New Jersey’s ban on large-capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. In an amicus brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Attorney General Herring and his counterparts argue that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution permits states to enact reasonable firearm restrictions that protect public safety, prevent crime, and reduce the harm caused by gun violence.


“Too many families in Virginia, and around the country, have been exposed to gun violence,” said Attorney General Herring. “It is important that states, like Virginia, have every option to implement commonsense gun safety measures to keep people and communities safe. While the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it also allows for commonsense, evidence-based policy decisions that will promote public safety and save lives.”


The coalition filed an amicus brief today in Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, Inc. v. Attorney General New Jersey. The lawsuit was filed by the New Jersey affiliate of the National Rifle Association and sought to prevent a 2018 law prohibiting the possession of large-capacity magazines from taking effect.


New Jersey enacted its ban on large-capacity magazines to protect residents from gun violence and to reduce the number of casualties and fatalities from potential mass shootings. Half a dozen other states and the District of Columbia have also enacted laws banning large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which have been upheld as reasonable firearm restrictions by federal courts of appeals.


In September 2018, a lower court denied the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs’ request for a preliminary injunction. The Association appealed to the Third Circuit, where the case is being heard on an expedited basis.


In this amicus brief, the states and the District of Columbia collectively argue that a ban on large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction that New Jersey has the right to adopt because:


  • The Second Amendment does not prevent states from enacting common-sense gun regulations: The brief explains that states are entitled to adopt reasonable restrictions on firearms to address the unique conditions within their borders and protect public safety. Restricting access to large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction because it would reduce firearm injuries and deaths while leaving many other options open for individuals who wish to exercise the core Second Amendment right to self-defense.  
  • States have a responsibility to prevent gun violence and protect public safety: The brief notes that states have primary responsibility for ensuring public safety. This includes a duty to reduce the likelihood that their citizens will fall victim to preventable firearm violence, and to minimize fatalities and injuries when that violence does occur. The brief notes that deciding how best to protect the safety of State residents is a question better suited to legislatures than courts.
  • Regulating large-capacity magazines protects the public: The brief cites evidence that large-capacity magazines are especially attractive to mass shooters and criminals, posing increased risks to innocent civilians and law enforcement. At the same time, there is no proof that large-capacity magazines are necessary—or even commonly used—for self-defense. 


Attorney General Herring is joined by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.