🏛  Ruling in Delaware could overturn restrictive gun laws

🏛  NJ says its 'assault weapons' ban is constitutional

🏛  Assault weapons rarely used for self-defense, states say

New Jersey joined Delaware in federal court on Monday, arguing in favor of state bans on what regulators call assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

The restrictive laws on certain models of semi-automatic firearms face a Second Amendment challenge.

NJ AG Matthew Platkin on assault weapons ban (Canva, Townsquare Media)
(Canva, Townsquare Media)

New Jersey filed a friend-of-the-court brief this summer on behalf of 18 states supporting Delaware’s laws in response to a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs affiliated with the National Rifle Association.

“The idea that the founders envisioned anything like an AR 15 when they drafted the constitution is delusional,” Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said during a press conference by phone.

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said a court decision against such laws would leave residents less safe.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which sits in Philadelphia, serves the areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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DE AG Kathy Jennings on assault weapons ban (Canva, Townsquare Media)
(Canva, Townsquare Media)

In this Third Circuit case, the state attorneys general collectively have argued that Delaware’s restrictions on what it defines as assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are constitutionally sound, in part because such weapons are rarely used and ill-suited for self-defense.

Jennings and Platkin both voiced confidence in the soundness of the case and also pointed to a recent favorable ruling earlier this month in Rhode Island.

The First Circuit upheld that state’s 2022 law restricting possession of large-capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Platkin also referenced the Uvalde school massacre when defending “common sense gun legislation.”

“In what world does it make sense for someone to be able to hold a military style weapon with 1600 rounds of ammo?” Platkin said.

Texas School Shooting
Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school, killing 19 children and 2 teachers. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

The 18-year-old shooter who killed 19 children and two educators at Robb Elementary School had legally purchased that much ammunition and two AR platform rifles shortly before the mass killing in May 2022.

Platkin and Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell filed the amicus brief filed in the Third Circuit case. The attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington also signed onto the filing.

NJ has been grappling with its own Third Circuit case, after passing a law to ban legal gun owners from concealed carry in “sensitive places.”

In May 2023, a federal judge initially blocked much of that state law — but in June 2023, Platkin's request was granted by the Third Circuit, allowing NJ to enforce most of its "sensitive places" restrictions on guns as the case continued to be considered.

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