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NJ AG Platkin Leads States in Defending Massachusetts’ Gun Laws


By: Najla Alexander 

NJ AG authorities announced that New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin 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 common-sense gun safety laws from a Second Amendment challenge.AdAccording to officials, 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 common-sense gun safety measures in place, officials stated. 

Officials said Massachusetts prohibits the sale and possession of LCMs, defined as ammunition magazines capable of holding more than ten 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, officials say. 

“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 common-sense firearms safety measures that protect residents in all of our communities.”

Authorities say 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-defense.

Assault weapons equipped with LCMs are the weapon of choice in mass shootings, defined as where four or more fatalities take place, officials said. 

Just last month, officials say, on April 29, 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, officials stated:

Ad1. 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, officials say. 

Semi-automatic assault weapons, such as AR-15 and AK-47-style rifles, fall into this category, officials said. 

Officials stated 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, authorities say. 

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, according to officials. 

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 a longstanding tradition of firearm regulation that supports this prohibition, officials say. 

For example, authorities say, 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.

According to officials, 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.AdIn 2023, officials said, 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, officials say.